PITTSBURGH - Yesterday several Washington Capitals, led by backup
goalie Craig Billington, tried to recreate a memorable shot that took
place at Mellon Arena last season.
The shot left Billington lying on the cement floor of the arena
with a welt on his head even though he wasn't in the game at the
There is a Plexiglas curtain that surrounds the ice surface and
protects fans from frozen, hard rubber pucks that travel at speeds in
excess of 100 mph, depending on who is shooting, of course.
Because the benches in Pittsburgh are so small, the spare goalies
sit in the passageways each team takes to the ice from the dressing
rooms. That leaves room for 18 very cramped skaters on the bench and
little more. The spare goalies are at rink side, protected by the
There are small holes bored in the Plexiglas, just large enough
for a photographer to stick the lens of a camera through. A 3-inch
puck could also fit through the hole, but there is very little wiggle
Billington was sitting on a stool during the game, minding his
business, when his lights suddenly went out. A Pittsburgh player,
trying to whip the puck around the boards to a teammate, accidentally
shot it through the tiny opening, nailing Billington in the throat.
Billington fell off his stool and then hit his head on the floor.
The scene seems like something out of a cartoon, but it was far
from funny at the time.
Several players, including Billington, tried to duplicate the
during the gameday skate. Not one was even close. It was a 1-in-a-
million shot that could not be repeated.