A wild affair like what occurred here Saturday night desensitizes you.
All the Capitals had to do to escape dropping the first two games of the first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens was to swap goalies in the first period, come back from three goals down, kill off a third-period power play, weather an Andrei Kostitsyn hat trick, have a rookie defenseman tie the game with 1:21 remaining and then seize a 6-5 victory in the opening minute of overtime.
"By no stretch did we deserve to win, but we got lucky and we did," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau moments before his star players began shooting the ball around behind him on the floor normally used by the Washington Wizards. "We know we're not out of the woods. There [are] probably a lot of people that are going to say that Montreal outplayed us for two games."
Outside their dismal display of hoops, Backstrom and Ovechkin had solid nights.
Backstrom tallied a hat trick and four points overall, the capper coming 31 seconds into overtime (photo above) to even the best-of-seven series at 1-1 as it shifts to Montreal on Monday. Ovechkin, who was held without a shot let alone a point in Game 1, had a goal and three assists to set a new career mark for postseason points in a game.
Ovechkin even set a new career best for hits in a postseason game with eight, two coming on his first shift of the game.
"Strategy? To destroy people?" Ovechkin said. "No. My job is to score goals."
That's to be expected after winning the last two NHL MVPs, but the Caps also received a major boost from a couple rookies.
Defenseman John Carlson, who has a penchant for dramatic goals, sent the game into overtime with a slap shot that beat Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak.
"I wasn't surprised to be in there," said Carlson, who scored the game-winner in Team USA's overtime victory over Canada in the world junior hockey championship in January. "I was surprised to have the puck on my stick in the slot there. It was pretty cool."
It was Carlson's first career postseason goal -- and the first of many, according to Boudreau.
"There's just something about him. I mean glory follows him," Boudreau said. "Some guys get that. I've said it before. They come up in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and they're the ones that do the damage. I think John Carlson in his career is going to be like that."
Carlson was supposed to be on the ice in Game 2, not another rookie that was called upon in the first period after starting Washington goalie Jose Theodore allowed goals on the first two shots.
In came Semyon Varlamov, who was tapped to replace Theodore early in last season's playoff run. Varlamov's true rookie campaign this season was hampered by injury and he missed 30 games as Theodore entered the playoffs as the team's clear No. 1.
"I don't know in the real world if Theo had a chance at either one (of the goals)," Boudreau said. "I do know that we had expended an awful lot of energy in the first eight minutes of the game and we were down. I thought it would be, A) a lift for the crowd and, B) a lift for the bench."
"Of course, I was surprised," said Varlamov, who started Game 2 of last season's opening-round series against the New York Rangers and remained in net before the Caps were dispatched in seven games by Pittsburgh a round later. "It's not often you see a goalie pulled after two goals. But obviously, I wasn't going to argue with it. I was told to go play, so I played."
Boudreau said he hasn't made a decision who will start in net in Game 3.
"Bruce decided to change and it was obviously the right choice because we won the game," Theodore said. "In the playoffs, it's all about winning or losing. Tomorrow is a new day."