Sunday was the final game of the season for mostly every team in the NHL, including the Washington Capitals, who missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. Their fate was decided before they took on the Lightning at home.
The game might not have mattered to the Capitals, but it sure did to the Lightning and the Canadiens. Those two were already set to face each other in the playoffs, but home-ice advantage was yet to be determined.
Earn two points and the Lightning would play host to the Habs; anything less, and Tampa Bay would have to start the postseason in Montreal.
So wouldn't you know it, the Lightning and Caps played to a stalemate, going all the way to the shootout. What's the only thing more aggravating than a shootout deciding something as critical as home-ice advantage? Watching Alex Ovechkin's attempt in the shootout.
It looked a bit like his old All-Star Weekend skills competition routine -- minus the big hat or other props. It was almost at half speed and was not a difficult save for Lightning goalie Anders Lindback (who only faced 18 shots all game anyway). The Lightning would go on to win the shootout, Matt Carle's goal being the only tally.
So it was that the Lightning got the advantage of playing at home vs. the Habs to start their series on Wednesday. Needless to say, this didn't go over well in Montreal.
That's just one small (and timid) sample.
It stinks for the Habs and all but if there ever was a game to try something like this, Sunday was it for Ovechkin. It's a legitimate move we've seen work in the NHL this season but with nothing on the line for his team, there was little harm from a personal standpoint for Ovi to try that. Of course, it would have been nice had he gone a little quicker (if he could) and make the move tougher to stop -- there wasn't much surprise to the attempt.
Even if he did go full out, chances are Ovechkin wasn't going to score anyway. He finished the season 2 for 16 in the shootout, so maybe this gave him as good of a shot as any to get a shootout tally.
At the same time, though, it doesn't look for the ol' integrity of the game. Then again, many say the same about the shootout itself.