-- Like every other player and coach was attempting to do before this series between Washington and Pittsburgh began, Caps winger Brooks Laich
tried to warn the media that it wasn't just a matchup of superstars.
After digesting Monday night's showdown between Sidney Crosby
and Alex Ovechkin
, Laich admitted he's now on board with the rest of us.
"It shows you guys were right, you know what you're talking about," Laich said of the media and the hype. "They're amazing players and it's only the beginning. Ovie is going to be in Washington a long time and Sid is going to be in Pittsburgh. This is just the beginning."
What a start they've given us.
Each superstar notched a hat trick in Game 2, though Ovechkin's third goal with 4:38 to play proved to be the game-winner in the Capitals' 4-3 victory. Washington takes a 2-0 series lead back to Pittsburgh for Game 3 Wednesday night at Mellon Arena (7 pm ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).
Crosby and Ovechkin have combined to score eight of the 12 goals in this series thus far. They each also scored a goal apiece in Game 1.
"Just the hype of what is going on with those two guys and for them to rise above that hype is pretty incredible," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau
said. "People are talking about it and they'll be talking about it until maybe (Wednesday) night when something else happens."
Not surprisingly, as the game was going on the Capitals, to a man, said they weren't thinking of how magnificent the show really was. Sure, they were aware that Crosby and Ovechkin were stealing the show, but "as a player you're so into the game you don't think about that kind of stuff," Capitals defenseman Mike Green
"You're so focused on every shift and every moment that you get lost in the game," added defenseman Brian Pothier
After the game, though, they were all consumed with what had just transpired and how important it is for the game of hockey and the National Hockey League to have its two biggest stars raising the bar against one another in the playoffs.
"Maybe we should put this on Pay-Per-View," Laich said. "It's awesome to watch. Years from now you're going to look at it as historic and it just goes to show how good those two players are."
"I don't think it would be possible for the semifinal round to be a dud anyway," Pothier added, "but to have the two best players on the planet facing off with some great supporting cast and great goaltenders, great offensive-defenseman, it's a can't-miss series."
Between can't-miss superstars, the last thing any of the 34 other skaters in each game can't do is get caught watching and admiring Crosby and Ovechkin. It's a recipe for disaster.
"I found myself a lot this year looking at Ovie and just enjoying watching him play," Pothier said, "but in this series you have to be focused for every shift. When the game is over you can sit back and appreciate them a little more."
The respect lives on, but their monumental achievements in Game 2 will be forgotten Wednesday night when the puck drops for Game 3.
Washington is up 2-0 in this series, playing from a position of power for the first time since winning Game 1 against Philadelphia last season. They lost three straight to the Flyers before bouncing back to force Game 7, which they lost in overtime.
The last thing the Capitals want to do is feel a sense of accomplishment.
"Sometimes when you see a team with the lead they kind of relax a bit, sit back and that's what we want to make sure we don't do," Laich said. "We don't want to be complacent and think that we've won anything because we haven't won anything yet. A lot is going to happen still."
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