On opposite sides of the continent Tuesday night, there were two big blown leads and conversely two mighty comebacks in games that make you wonder whether they’re the kinds of contests that have longstanding ramifications.
Let’s start in Washington, where the Capitals, trying to prove that they actually understand coach Adam Oates, fell behind the powerful Boston Bruins 3-0 in the first period. But the Caps closed the door defensively and began chipping away at the lead, tying the score at 3-3 just past the midpoint of the third period on a Wojtek Wolski goal. Eric Fehr did his best Alex Ovechkin impression, splitting the Bruins’ defense and putting the winner past Tuukka Rask just 37 seconds into overtime. It was the first time the two teams had met since Game 7 of the opening round of the 2012 playoffs, when the Bruins were upset by the Caps. Is this the kind of win that suggests the Caps can’t be counted out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, in spite of a long period of uneven play? It was a rare night in that four of five teams in the weak Southeast Division earned victories. The Caps, sitting in 14th place in the conference as of Wednesday, are only five points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers and, if they do make a charge, rest assured Tuesday’s game will loom large in the retelling of this season’s story.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the St. Louis Blues looked for two periods as though they would make a statement against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings, taking a 4-1 lead in a game in which the Blues looked very much like the team that won the Central Division and was the NHL’s stingiest team a year ago. But that notion came crashing down early in the third when the Kings scored three times in the first 6:09 of the period to chase starter Jaroslav Halak. The final goal in that barrage came courtesy of the blistering-hot Jeff Carter, whose 15 goals are now second in the league behind Steven Stamkos. (Carter also leads the NHL with six game-winning goals, including his game-winner Tuesday.) Brian Elliott came on in relief and gave up one goal as the slumping Blues lost 6-4. Since a 3-0 trip last month that appeared to mark a corner turned, the Blues have gone 2-4-1 and scored only 12 times to fall to ninth place in the conference. The Blues Tuesday called up rookie netminder Jake Allen, who was 3-0 during that aforementioned trip, but one wonders how long the Blues will take to get over this gut-wrenching loss -- or whether it serves as the proverbial wake-up call for a team that thus far has underachieved.