‘A game of inches’: Eller's skate the culprit in Caps’ goal reversal

Chris Lingebach
November 12, 2019 - 4:38 pm

The Capitals had yet another epic comeback victory in the books Monday night, clawing back from a three-goal deficit to force overtime against Arizona when T.J. Oshie scored two minutes and 13 seconds into overtime. Until a replay review waved off Oshie's game-winning goal, with the NHL's Situation Room ruling that Oshie was offsides prior to scoring. 

It was all a cruel bit of bad luck, as Lars Eller, who made the pass to Oshie for the game-winner, slipped and fell just as he was crossing the blue line, causing Oshie – by a whisker – to cross the blue line before the puck (video here). Oshie had also scored the equalizer with one minute and 1 6 seconds left in the third period to force OT.

So in the span of about three and a half minutes, the Caps went from the adrenaline high of winning in comeback fashion, to the adrenaline dump of watching their hard work erased. They'd go on to lose in a shootout, and Washington's six-game winning streak evaporated, just like that.

"That's an emotional roller coaster within five minutes, thinking you win the game and then you end up losing the game," Eller told The Sports Junkies during his weekly appearance, driven by AAA.

"I've never tried that before in OT, having the goal called back," he said. "That was different. Come from a really, really, really high of just having tied up the game with a minute to go and thinking you're winning it in overtime, and then having it taken away, that was tough, but we'll move on fast."

On slipping at the blue line, Eller explained, "I actually felt a couple of shifts before that there was something on my skate, maybe I had stepped on something, but I didn't think it was gonna affect me, and then the next time I did a crossover, the skate just gave out under me and I fell."

"That actually made me go offside, or made Osh go offside on that play, so that's why it's a game of inches right there," he said. "If you're an inch off or the puck is an inch off being inside the blue line, that's tough, but that's how it is sometimes."

Considering the circumstances, this was the rarest turn of events.

"It's never happened to me, in OT at least," said Eller. "I've seen goals been called back during games."

"No, but just to catch your skate like that and fall," Junkies host Eric Bickel asked. "How often does that happen for you?"

"It happens almost every game, maybe every other game," Eller replied. "But it doesn't always happen when you have the puck, so it's maybe not as visible when you're watching the game on TV, or if you're there, you see a guy go down. But you actually change your skate blades during the game almost every game, because, you know, you step on someone's stick or you step on whatever, the post, and that can screw up a skate blade so you don't have the grip that you need."

Asked whether just the blade or the whole boot is replaced, Eller elaborated on the process of in-game blade replacements.

"It used to be that you would have almost change the whole boot or change the whole blade holder, which could take some time," he said, "but technology now, you can actually take just the blade off and switch the blade, and that only takes like 10 seconds. And our equipment manager, Brock (Myles), he always has like every single blade for every single player, because every single player has a different sharpness to how they want their blade, to be sharp or deep. So he has all those on hand and he's got to be ready to come and change them on the bench all the time. He does a great job of that, so it's not something you'd notice probably, unless you know."