Despite Tampa Bay’s best efforts to keep visiting fans out, there were pockets of red in the stands at Amalie Arena on Friday night for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Lightning and Washington Capitals. Of all the Capitals fans among the sellout crowd, no one enjoyed watching Alex Ovechkin and Co. blitz the favored Lightning in a 4-2 win more than former Redskins defensive linemen A.J. Francis and Chris Baker.
Both players reveled in the disappointment of the Lightning fans sitting around them and documented the saltiness of the blue-clad home crowd with videos they shared on Twitter as the Capitals built a 4-0 lead in the second period.
Francis, a D.C. native who played his college football at Maryland, drew the ire of some Redskins fans earlier this month when he was released by Washington, signed with the New York Giants and was critical of his home town and former NFL team in an Instagram post. On Friday, Francis rocked a white custom No. 99 Capitals jersey with his name on the back and laughed at the “big mad” Lightning fans in his section, including one kid who turned away from the action on the ice to play the popular video game Fortnite on his phone after the Capitals took a four-goal lead.
NBC 4’s Sherree Burruss caught up with Francis in the concourse during the game.
“We need this,” Francis said. “We need this bad. D.C. needs this bad. Even though I know I’m [a] pariah, most wanted, No. 1 in D.C. right now, I know for a fact that D.C. needs this. Because I actually grew up around there. Everybody that’s mad at me because I’m on the Giants now, well, I’ll see you on Benning Road if you really have issues.”
Francis met up with Baker, who signed a one-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in March after spending last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Unlike Francis, a lifelong Capitals supporter, Baker discovered the team during his five seasons with the Redskins from 2012 to 2016 and has evidently remained a fan. He sported his custom No. 92 Capitals jersey with “Swaggy” on the back at Friday’s game and shared a celebratory video after every Capitals goal.
“Oh, they mad,” Baker said, panning the camera on his phone to show the Lightning fans behind him after the Capitals took a 1-0 lead. “Look at their faces. They’re mad.”
“No goal,” Baker taunted, with a Dikembe Mutombo-like finger wag, after Nikita Kucherov’s apparent game-tying tally was waved off late in the first period because the Lightning had too many men on the ice.
When Alex Ovechkin scored on the ensuing power play to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead, Baker shot another video, just as he would after Washington’s third and fourth goals.
Lightning fans were mad during Game 1. Let’s hope Francis and Baker are both back at Amalie Arena to document the scene from Game 2 on Sunday night.
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