I got to watch one of the better played games by the New York Islanders, and against one of the most famous players in the NHL, Alexander Ovechkin and his Capitals. The final score was 5-2, hinting that the Islanders dominated the game, but there was more to it than just numbers.
The Capitals actually tried to make a comeback, going from 4-0 to 4-2 in 5 minutes. But, it didn't help enough. The Isles truly dominated the first 10 minutes, scoring 2 goals on 3 shots, while the Caps were scoreless on 5. A true team support was felt, because every two minutes or so a fan would start a "Let's go Islanders (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap,)" cheer. It seemed to have a good effect on the team, because there was a lot of hard, clean hits.
In the first period, I saw my first goal on a nice game of catch that turned into a Mike Sillinger goal.
Then, after a flurry of great saves by Rick 'DP' DiPietro, the Isles struck again, after Andy Hilbert blasted the puck so hard, it made him fall over. Then, the physical play got serious when an Islander knocked a Capital in mid-ice, and it appeared to injure him. Islanders fans were screaming "Dive!", but the referee called a penalty.
The second period was also exciting, as the Islanders got a highlight-reel goal from Jason Blake. Blake received a good pass from Ryan Smyth, and Blake made an amazing deke around Brent Johnson for the third goal. That got everybody on their feet for about two minutes, and almost got rid of my voice. Then, Marc-Andre Bergeron complied to fans shouts when he blasted the puck from the point. The Islanders had been passing on several good attempts, but when everybody screamed "SHOOT!" when Bergeron got the puck, he did, and the Isles got ahead by 4-0.
In the 3rd period, I got to see Ovechkin score a nice goal, catching up to a loose puck, turn sharply, and score on the rebound after DiPietro made the initial save. On the next Capitals goal, Donald Brashear caught DP at a bad angle and scored, but then added his traditional mean streak by punching Brendan Witt in the face. Witt left the ice with a trainer, appearing to favor his right leg, but returned later in the game and even made a nice hit on Ovechkin. In a last ditch effort, Brent Johnson was pulled for an extra attacker, but Jason Blake sent a puck between a Capital defender's legs to get his second goal of the night, and 35th of the year.
Of course, after the game I wanted to get a player's autograph. I joined a large crowd to wait for Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals, but surprisingly, they decided to take a fan-proof exit and get on the bus that way. Despite that small setback, I joined a crowd that waited for the Islanders players to drive out in their cars and stop to sign autograph. I watched as 4 cars, including Randy Robitaille and two other unidentifiable players, drove by without stopping. Then, the hero of the game decided that he would save the day for some hopeful fans. Jason Blake and his sports car drove up and Blake got out to sign autographs for at least 50 fans. It was as if Elvis were to pull over in a small Nashville town. Blake was practically mobbed with T-shirts, pictures, and anything else an autograph could get on. My Dad quickly grabbed the piece of paper I had especially saved for autographs, and held it up where Blake could reach. I was also holding out my hat, just as a back-up, but once I saw Jason Blake grab that piece of paper the hat was on my head so I could hold on to that autographed piece of paper as tightly as possible.
This experience was the best thing that could happen to any young hockey fan. I found my passion for hockey rising and rising, and now I can't wait to go to another game.