The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s game-winner conjures up memories of NHL 94 video game

When Evgeny Kuznetsov netted the game-winner against the Islanders on Monday night, a couple different things happened. Most immediately, Capitals play-by-play man John Walton let loose a fantastic call of “Evgeny means necessary!” on the radio broadcast. Then, many astute 25- to 35-year-olds noted the nature of the strike, which looked like something directly out of the holy grail of video games, EA Sports’ NHL 94.

There’s a reasonable argument that NHL 94 is the best sports video game ever made. The closest dispute is that the game from the year before actually outshines it, but that’s about it. Back to the goal, however. That move — the drag across the net, release the button on the upward fling — is something I have literally done thousands of times in my life with a Sega Genesis controller. In just watching the replay, I can still feel the visceral pleasure that comes with executing said wrister as a pre-teen.

For what it’s worth, the Capitals were pretty darn good in this game, too. They weren’t the best squad, but as a young Caps fan, they were the most fun to play with. That video game was as important to my interest in the sport as anything else, and a large part of the reason why I’m a hockey fan now. A lot of people noticed, too.

If you’re like me, you will watch the video below. You will revel in the pregame music. You’ll discuss your settings. (No offsides, obviously.) You will enjoy the “booooo” chants every time someone gets decked, and if your 20 year-old muscle memory still serves you well, you won’t touch the controller during intermission, so you can see the highlights from around the league that the computer would just make up.

And if you challenge me to a game, I will crush you. With the Capitals.