Let’s get this out of the way now: there are events that took place in Game 2 that were frustrating and infuriating as all hell. Whether it be the non-goaltender interference call, the inconclusive Hornqvist goal, Tom Wilson chugging piss at center ice, or the overall officiating as a whole, some things just suck in this stupid ass sport.
Here’s the good news:
The Penguins went into Washington and got a split of the series. They did so without two-thirds of their 2nd line in Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin. They also did so without having played anything close to their best hockey until the second half of both games, while playing with house money yesterday.
This team has another level to get to. We all know it and we all know it’s coming.
What’s important to watch for is exactly how these guys respond to a loss, the tough bounces, the injustices, and the perceived injustices when Tuesday night rolls around in the Paint Can.
Fortunately for the woe is me crowd, remembering Mike Sullivan and Matt Murray’s playoff histories after losses should be that Valium you need to chill out and let this ride.
For a brief moment during warmups, the jimmies were all rustled thinking Sprong was going to be something more than just a 13th forward, taking warmups just in case anything happened.
But then there were no changes to either teams’ Game 1 talented lineups.
WSH – 1st Pd./1:26 – Ovechkin; A: Hornqvist – 1-0
From the opening faceoff, the Penguins were always going to have to weather the storm early and often against a desperate Capitals team. And with that in mind, they damn near opened the scoring themselves on the first shift of the game as Crosby took a Letang shot off his shaft, only to see it go just wide of Holtby’s cage.
But about a minute later after a Pens clearance, Ovi’s line got on the ice and Ovi did what Ovi do. Immediately after shrugging the Pens forechecking off on the dump in, the Caps got the puck going north, getting a fortunate little bounce through a pinching Dumoulin to a streaking Kuznetsov. Hornqvist was tracking and outworked the Russian center, but only so much as to sweep the puck to Ovechkin joining in on the 2v1.5 to wire yet another vintage Ovi snapper home and open the scoring.
So unlucky for Hornqvist, but you ain’t stopping an Ovechkin shot from there.
WSH – 1st Pd./14:54 – PPG – Vrana; A: Eller, Holtby – 2-0
But about 6 minutes later, the Pens had their chance to draw level with a PP chance after Kuznetsov decided to be a big dumb idiot person by kicking out at Sheahan in the Pens zone. One way traffic up until that point with the Caps owning a 7-1 SOG edge, which the grew even further on the Pens powerplay. Without looking at the stats, you can confidently say the Pens powerplay was “bad” and “fucking terrible,” giving up more chances than they generated.
It seemed like that was what the Penguins needed to liven up a bit, grabbing some nice chances of their own after that debacle. That is until Crosby went off for a little hooking penalty with about 7 minutes to play.
The Pens PK was good and lively, Matt Murray being the best penalty killer on the ice. They did a great job shadowing Ovi and keeping him from being a factor, but on the very last rush up ice for the Caps 2nd unit, they capitalized.
With Vrana chugging along and heading straight to the corner after a Pens clearance, he was able to isolate Dumoulin and slip a pass to Eller coming in support, sucking Ruhwedel over. With Ruhwedel stepping out, Vrana was able to finish the second part of a give-and-go, sneaking in and beating Murr short-side before Tom Kat and Ruhwedel could recover.
HCMS challenged for goaltender interference because of a cheeky little slash of Murray’s pad by Connolly. Apparently this was viewed to not impact Murray’s ability to make the save because kangaroo court reviewed it. K.
With that, the Penguins continued to get run all over and, had it not been for Matt Murray, well, it would’ve been uglier than the reviews of an Amy Schumer movie.
WSH – 2nd Pd./2:08 – Connolly; A: Eller, Simon – 3-0
But as much as the ugliness was avoided late in the first period, it reared its head early in the second. After the Simon, Brassard, and Co. did a nice job to win the puck in a corner scrum, Simon took off up the left wing wall on what looked like a potential little odd man rush. Behind the play, Letang and Dumoulin were poised to head to the bench for a change only for Simon to try to force a pass back to Brassers trailing.
The pass was broken up and Eller immediately hit Connolly all alone behind the changing D to storm in on Murr, who got a big big piece of the breakaway shot, but didn’t get the save he should’ve made.
Surely Murr would want that one back, but this one falls squarely on Dominik Simon.
Dom Simon plays a really simple game. He was generally fine yesterday, but this turnover was seven shades of shit. He has Sheary coming with him with a ton of speed on the far side of the ice. He takes a look back, sees Brassard, but also has to see Eller up Brassers ass. If he just chips it in behind Djoos, you’re probably not reading this blurb. With Sheary hitting the line with the same speed, they have the chance to burrow in deep and potentially create a greasy look rather than giving up a goal at the other end.
PIT – 2nd Pd./13:04 – Letang; A: Jultz, Guentzel – 3-1
Shortly after the Caps made it 3-0, noted dirtbag piss drinking shithead asshole Tom Wilson knocked Dumo out of the game with a vicious, nasty, cheap headshot, of which there would be no penalty on because this is the NHL and targeting the head of a helpless player is cool and fine and definitely just a hockey play.
After the game, presumably after he had a chance to cool off with a gallon of that sweet, sweet human lemonade, the missing link had this to say:
“Yeah, I was driving the car, but he just walked out into that crosswalk. It all happened so quickly and it’s really unfortunate that I ran him over. Nothing I could’ve done.” – Also Tom Wilson
As the period and game wore on, the Penguins started to realize this was a game they may not actually be out of and, of course, they realized this because Crosby and Guentzel realized this. First, it was Jake nearly breaking Holtby’s shutout bid, only to be held up at gunpoint by Holtby’s right pad.
Hornqvist and Orlov got into each others mouths at the end of the play, levying matching roughing minors against the two. On the 4v4, Crosby-Guentzel-Letang-Jultz put on an absolute clinic as to how to behave with a shit load of open ice. Crosby got the endeavor set up, gaining free entry into the Caps zone. But the weaving and dipping and diving the foursome put on would be so sensual and sexual that a certain local blogger probably would’ve been sliding into its DMs after the game.
Letang credited with the goal. Guentzel was waving at it though, but the movement with and without the puck was just a thing of beauty.
And that scoreline would be how the period would end, despite Letang nearly bringing the Pens within 1 in the latter stages (and us hitting the stage of the series where Matt Niskanen gets away with chickenshit cheap stuff, like kneeing his opponents).
PIT – 3rd Pd./9:00 – Hornqvist; A: Crosby – 3-2
Early in the final frame, the Pens were once again given a chance to pull back within a goal as Timothy Jimothy Oshie in the box for a nasty trip/interference on Crosby. Underrated cheap, cheap play. Pens couldn’t find the breakthrough….until they thought they did when the penalty expired.
After Oshie was released from the cage in which he belongs, Crosby went full Crosby to pick up a giveaway and walk around the entire Caps team, including Holtby, to slip it to the front of the net where Hornqvist was crashing and banging. Holtby was down and out and looking like more of a contortionist than Faye Reagan, Hornqvist thought he scored, but it went to the video review.
Not sure it could’ve been any closer than what it was. It certainly looked good, but camera angles can also be deceiving as all hell. The overhead view being shit is solely where and why this “goal” went to die.
Deemed inconclusive or whatever the fuck they called it and Sully was beyond displeased. Had the look down to a science in this one, gang.
WSH – 3rd Pd./19:53 – Backstrom; A: Wilson, Eller – 4-1
The non-goal got the tempers flaring, the penalties flying, and neither team converting on any of their late PP chances before Backstrom put on the end of a Washington clearance to hit the empty cage and finish this shitfest off.
- Don’t buy in to the “Murray’s glove hand” narrative. Every shooter shoots high. This isn’t news or a new concept in the game of ice hockey. And make no mistake, Murr kept this game respectable and kept the Pens in it.
- Could not have been any clearer that the Caps needed this win.
- Refs had a rough game, but not an excuse. Definitely a tough day for the “Pens get all the calls” crowd though.
- Gotta lose at least one to win in 5-7 games. On to the next.
The series moves on to Games 3 and 4 in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Thursday. Get back in the saddle and bury them there. LGP.