Feb. 28, 2012 is a date that could live in infamy in Washington Capitals history. Well, maybe not infamy, but it could prove to be the day the Capitals turned their 2011-12 season around.
On this date, the Capitals received two goals in the final 3:29 from Troy Brouwer to overcome a 2-0 deficit late in the third period against the visiting New York Islanders and then got the game winner from Alex Ovechkin, unassisted, 1:35 into overtime for an improbable 3-2 win.
The game was the first one for the Capitals since the NHL trade deadline on Monday and happens to bring upon a case of deja vu.
On March 1, 2011, the Capitals were playing their first game after the trade deadline for the 2010-11 season.
The Capitals made two deadline moves to acquire defenseman Dennis Wideman from the Florida Panthers and center Jason Arnott from the New Jersey Devils. They also claimed forward Marco Sturm off of waivers a few days earlier.
All three made their Capitals debut on March 1. There opponent happen to be the New York Islanders.
The Islanders led 1-0 until a goal in the final minute of regulation by Brooks Laich sent the game into overtime.
An unassited goal by Alex Ovechkin at 1:55 of the extra frame gave the Capitals the win.
The Capitals were struggling heading into last March's game much like they were this year and in need of a spark.
They scored late in regulation, just like last night and won the game on an unassisted goal by Ovechkin.
The Capitals won nine of their next 10 games after the Islanders victory last season to eventually claim the number one seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Could last night's win have a similiar impact as last season's win? Maybe, and if so it won't bolt the Capitals into the Easts' number one seed. But, it could give them enough momentum to catch the Florida Panthers and win their fifth straight Southeast division championship and capture the number three seed in the East.
Coincidences happen all of the time in life let alone sports. But, for a group that has hugely underachieved this year, a late game surge for an improbable win could give them the confidence they need to achieve even a small piece of the expectations they had heading into this season.
It happened last year. No reason it can't happen this season.