The San Jose Sharks scored an empty net goal with exactly one minute left against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, usually the surest sign of a game being put on ice. However, the hockey gods decided to wreak some havoc, because reader, I’m here to tell you that the Sharks did not win this game.
It was Logan Couture who scored the empty net goal at 19:00 of the third period, giving San Jose a 4-2 lead. It was fitting that Couture put the game away, since he’s the team’s leading point-getter and the Sharks’ captain. It was a big day for Captains in Washington D.C., with Sunday also the 10th anniversary of Alex Ovechkin getting the “C” on his Capitals jersey.
Empty-net goals are synonymous with winning. They are the inevitable byproduct of a desperate trailing team doing everything it can to clay back in it, pulling the goalie for more offense, only to see their hopes dashed when a puck slides harmlessly into an unguarded net. There were 200 empty-net goals this season in the NHL entering Sunday, and all of them came in wins.
Just ask the Capitals.
Couture seals it for San Jose with a minute left— Washington ☃️ Capitals (@Capitals) January 5, 2020
“Seals it,” they said. But only one minute of real time (13 seconds of game time) later, Washington saw hope.
But even with that goal, the Capitals still trailed by one with 47 seconds left. Their path to victory was still arduous. The Sharks were very much still in the driver’s seat. Then suddenly, they weren’t.
T.J. Oshie scored with 15 seconds left in regulation, then Lars Eller scored at just over two minutes into overtime. Caps goalkeeper Braden Holtby got an assist on that one, because sure, why not.
AND THAT'S HOW YOU COME BACK FOLKS pic.twitter.com/ZyNJGn1nun— Washington ☃️ Capitals (@Capitals) January 5, 2020
The Capitals have been around for 45 seasons. This is the first time they have ever come back from a multi-goal deficit in the final minute of regulation to win. It’s only the seventh time in NHL history such a thing has happened!
Down two goals with a minute remaining, the Capitals had a minuscule 0.38 percent chance to win this game, per Money Puck.
In the last 40 NHL seasons, this is the fifth time a team has lost after scoring an empty-net goal. So yes, this is quite rare.
From a two-goal lead with one minute left, to a loss a mere 181 game seconds later. That’s a brutal way for the Sharks to lose, and an incredible way for Washington to win.