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Fedorov Saves the Capitals From a Case of Stage Fright

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The Washington Post's Mike Wise takes you behind the column during the Capitals' 2-1 victory over the Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Video by Atkinson & Co.

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Pandemonium.

"Sir-GAAY! Sir-GA-AY!"

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That shot from the right side -- that scintillating score -- seemed to come out of 1992, when he last ended a series in such pulsating fashion. He was not 39 and in the twilight of his career. Fedorov was merely a kid with the Detroit Red Wings, if you can call a 22-year-old who defected from the former Soviet Union and had played with Vladimir Konstantinov, Slava Kozlov, Vyacheslav Fetisov and Igor Larianov in Hockeytown, USA all those years ago a kid.

Remember, the Russian Five? How was Fedorov to know he would be part of another 17 years later?

"When you score a goal like that, does it make you feel young again?" he was asked.

"Certainly it brought some memories," Fedorov began, "certainly at this point it makes you excited and really passionate about what you do. And that's how I feel right now."

The old vet who sent this franchise to the second round is a Russian pioneer, whose courage to defect made it possible for Ovie and Viktor Kozlov and Alexander Semin and Simeon Varlamov to eventually play in the NHL (on a team in the nation's capital with more Russian players than any NHL team, no less).

"You can say that, I guess," he said, sheepishly, standing a few feet from the ice last night, a red beanie keeping his dishwater-blond mop intact. "I think I open up borders a little bit."

When he was brought here last February after not going to the postseason for four years, after 13 straight years of Cup runs in Detroit, everyone knew this could be Fedorov's last stop in the NHL.

From the Now-It-Can-Be-Told file: Fedorov said he hoped to come back next season, the idea being that management would never want to break up an outfit that won it all or came within a couple of games. When this was relayed to a person in management, the reply: "Sergei come back? Maybe for the parade."

When the same person was asked last night if Fedorov would return, he began nodding, yes, maybe more than the parade.

Okay, it's much too early this postseason to think they would re-invest in a player who will turn 40 in December, who missed 30 games this year due to injury or illness, who relies more on savvy and skill than the speed and power of his youth. But now Sergei Fedorov is a bona fide part of this era in Capitals history. Besides, he is related to the Caps' apparent good-luck charm.


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