During the last week there has been a poll on the Caps website asking fans to vote on who would score the first goal of the series.
Oddly enough, Donald Brashear didn't even show up on the list of options.
But it was Brash who kickstarted the scoring last night, earning a goal-scorers' goal just under four minutes in to give the Caps a 1-0 lead. He threw himself into the boards with glee, emulating the young superstars that he has sworn to protect - 239 pounds of pure happy. It wasn't the last time the Verizon Center boards would shake with celebration...but it was one of the best.
As for the rest of the team, it was a game that at times held lasting moments of cherished memories for many players, mixed with moments that all of us would soon forget. Seeing Alex Ovechkin earn his first playoff goal in dramatic fashion or seeing Dave Steckel get his first playoff goal to regain the lead - those are things that they will remember and we will remember for a long time. Seeing Daniel Briere dart out of the penalty box virtually undetected to take that lead away...that's something we'd rather forget.
It was one of those nights where the team that showed up for the first period, full of nerves and emotion and adrenalin, was different from the team that showed up for the second period, full of nerves and sluggishness and uncertainty.
And neither was the team that showed up in the third to dominate and eventually take game 1.
If you were there or were watching on TV, it's likely that you, like us, believed that a two-goal deficit could be overcome. Whether that's hubris or wishful thinking or just the result of watching this team for the last seven months, I don't know. But as soon as Green scored the Caps' third goal you could feel it - electricity. Energy. Life. They were going in for the kill.
Ovechkin was the eventual hero last night, and in usual dramatic fashion as is his way. But give credit to the Flyers for really taking away his time and space for most of the game - and give credit to the rest of the Caps for recognizing this, stepping up, and getting the job done largely without their young superstar.
There are things to work on for game 2 and a short time to get them done. Knowing this team as we do, though, there's no question it will get done before game 2 rolls around tomorrow afternoon.
And to the 18,276 other people who joined me in celebration last night...that was amazing. I can't remember the last time I heard the building that loud, even ten years ago during the Cup run. It was a truly incredible experience, and I hope to see all of you back out there in full voice and full red for tomorrow's game. There is much work to be done and we need to do our part - LET'S GO CAPS!