Third Star. Okay.
Did anyone else notice the difference between playing the Ducks and Sharks…and then playing the Capitals? Instead of having basically no room to move, the Penguins had free ice all first period long, and that enabled them to jump out to an early 2-1 lead.
Special teams came up huge again. They put home a PPG in the first, and then the PK came through with their backs against the wall in the final 2:17 of the game.
Lee Stempniak is about to embark on that part of his career where he gets aided by playing with Sidney Crosby. He’s been in the NHL for a while. He knows where to go and what to do. He looked better than he did in his first two games for sure. 2 points in this one.
Big spot for Jeff Zatkoff to get the win, too. Pens are gonna need him down the stretch here and possibly in the playoffs.
Caps and Pens are right back at it tonight at CEC. Possibly 8-point swing for the Caps if they can’t pull out a win.
The Pens and Caps haven’t played in a while, so we’ve missed asking this question: What was Mike Green doing? Less than a minute in, after a Zatkoff save on Fehr, Stempniak won a board battle and got it to Crosby. Crosby passed it to Kunitz, and Mike Green was just watching. Kunitz blew past Green then went backhand on Halak. 1-0.
The lead lasted about 2 minutes. Chimera got it through the Pens to Fehr cutting to the net. Pyatt couldn’t keep up. 1-1.
Backstrom put the Pens on the PP right after with a slash to Crosby’s arm. Stupid penalty, and Crosby made him pay with a slapper 11 seconds into the PP. 2-1.
The Pens were getting unlimited faceoffs in the Caps’ zone after icing calls. Then Orpik slashed John Carlson’s stick and broke it. The terrifying Caps PP didn’t do anything on that first one. Zatkoff had to make a big save on Chimera. Killed. Orpik came back on the ice and leveled Donald Fehr. How many years have Chimera and Fehr played for the Caps? This was the most we’ve ever noticed both of them in a game against the Pens.
Kunitz-Crosby-Stempniak are starting to gain some chemistry. Crosby took a puck to the net, almost scored, then got elbowed in the face by Ovechkin for some reason, so the Pens got a PP they didn’t do anything with.
The second period went south quickly after a terrible shift from the fourth line. The Pens weren't able to recover. Crosby had to pull down Dustin Penner to prevent a goal:
The Caps got a power play. Again the Penguins PK did its job. The Caps’ power play is the most predictable thing in the world. They just all stand around, stare at Ovechkin, and hope the PK unit strays from their assignments a tad.
Joe Vitale, shift killer
Things you can't do when your team is up one goal on the road:
Come on, man.
Another Caps PP. Craig Adams almost died blocking a shot. Then Scuderi had flashbacks to the 2009 playoff series. He was jammed about Ovechkin, and it left Brooks Laich open in front. Easy lay-up. 2-2.
Pens were getting outshot 15-1 in the second period through 11 minutes. Killing penalties can do that. But the Pens only needed a couple more to take the lead. KCS connected again, with Kunitz cleaning up a Stempniak rebound. 3-2.
Pens ended up getting outshot 17-6 in the period.
The Pens were noticeably better in the third period. Shots were 7-7.
Pens limited the Caps’ chances.
Crosby’s line was strong again.
Zatkoff and the Penalty Kill late
Let’s not beat around the bush. Only one thing mattered in the third period, and it came with 2:17 left to play.
The Pens got caught with a too-many-men penalty. And that’s something that just can’t happen, especially when you’re holding on to a lead in the third period. The Penguins were definitely guilty of it, and the Caps’ power play geared up.
It was almost like the Pens knew what was coming, likely because they did, because Adam Oates is an idiot.
The Penguins took Ovechkin out of the power play, and the Caps didn't really get a good look.
See you at the steps.
- The Bobs should get around to asking exactly what Vitale does around here. Actually, the answer is probably his faceoff percentage of 62.5%, second-best among NHLers with at least 320 faceoffs taken. The big boys like Patrice Bergeron have taken over 1,000. Bergeron is at 59.2%.
- Pens should look into why they’re getting outshot so badly.
- During the third period, it was hard to ignore what was happening in Dallas. Rich Peverley collasped. More details here