The beautiful thing about hockey is, you never know what you are going to see on any given night. When you attend a hockey game, the event is a blank page, like a freshly zambonied sheet of ice sitting in a quiet local rink on a cold snowy morning waiting to be marked up by the skates of the players, their blades cutting into the ice like Dali with a paintbrush each stride representing infinite narrative possibility.
Go to enough hockey games, and chances are you will see something special. Maybe you will see a high school player grow into his own and record a hat-trick, maybe you will see an underdog give everything they have to pull out an improbable win, or maybe you will see the best player in the world tie a game as time expires in the third period.
That is what I saw last night at the TD Garden and I can say with certainty that it was one of the craziest sports moments that I have ever witnessed live. It was mayhem at the Garden after Sidney Crosby scored the game tying goal with .3 seconds left. Not mayhem, like people going crazy, but mayhem like nobody knew what to do. Bruins fans didn’t know if they should be celebrating a huge win against a tough Penguins team or if they should be hanging their heads in shock. There were a few Penguins fans with their hands held tentatively in the air waiting for the refs to review the goal.
When Crosby scored the goal, my first reaction was to join in with the Penguins fans in their celebration. Not because I had any dog in the hunt, but because I had paid good money to go to the game and dammit if I wasn’t going to get some bonus hockey.
Whatever extra hockey we got didn’t last long as Torey Krug wrapped up a Bruins win with a goal :34 into the overtime period. The fan reaction after Crosby scored may have felt like a botched surprise attempt, but Bruins fans knew what to do after Krug’s slap shot beat Marc-Andre Fleury. The Garden exploded, fans celebrated in earnest this time as the players celebrated on the ice and as “Dirty Water” played over the PA.
As we piled out of the stadium, the crowed, which had been rambunctious all night, was eerily silent. We all knew we had just witnessed something awesome but it all happened so fast that we were all still in shock. We quietly dispersed into a cold Boston night, collecting our thoughts, making small talk. We all had a story to tell but we still hadn’t figured out how exactly to tell it.