In a different universe, you probably see this game go the Penguins way.
They controlled the play, they owned the puck, they had a good goaltending performance going, and they had a lead heading into the 3rd.
Everything was set.
In a different universe, you probably see this game go the Penguins way.
But we’re in our shitty universe where everything is shit and the Penguins face elimination for the first time this postseason.
So clench those b-holes. Hold your loved ones close. Pray to your god or sacrifice a goat or whatever it is religions do these days. But above all else, buckle up. Monday is everything.
With no extra injuries piling up, both lineups remained the same as in Game 4, with Actually Good Dom Simon riding with Crosby and Guentzel and also Actually Bad Devante Smith-Pelly playing alongside Ovi and Kuznetsov. Murr vs. Holtby in front of the 4x6s.
PIT – 1st Pd./2:23 – Oleksiak; A: Brassers, Sheary – 1-0
From the opening puck drop, both teams came out looking like they knew exactly what was at stake in Game 5 of a 2-2 series. The scoring chances were aplenty with both teams going punch-counter punch in the opening 2.5 minutes.
First, it was Ovi inexplicably finding himself all alone in front of Murr with the puck on his stick after a blown coverage. Let me welcome y’all to the M&M Show.
Immediately after the save, the Rust-Sheahan-Phil! line stormed down, nearly capitalizing off a very explicable Brooks Orpik giveaway. The explanation is that he’s Brooks Orpik and, in fact, fucking sucks at ice hockey. Sheahan denied by the post as he tried to wait out a scrambling Holtby.
But on the next shift, and before Orpik could even get off the ice, the Pens were not going to be denied. With Sheary-Brassard-Kuhnhackl burying the Caps 4th line, Sheary and Brassard burrowed in deep to take Oleksiak’s purposefully wide point shot, combine and get it back to the Big Rig at the point. Tom Kat, Sheary, and (also very explicably) Orpik got themselves in the shooting lane as Oleksiak’s shot came in, finding its way through the mass of bodies and in behind Holtby for the opener.
WSH – 1st Pd./18:22 – PPG – Carlson; A: Kuznetsov, Oshie – 1-1
The up and down first period had damn near everything. Both teams registering a ton of shots, both teams trading off PP chances, and pucks trickling through Holtby. Basically the standard stuff.
The Penguins were awarded the first PP of the night as Riskanen got rung up for hooking up Phil!. Pens did every damn thing right on the man-advantage except score, with Crosby getting the best looks. No idea how he didn’t net at least one, but here we are.
Pens went on to kill off a Ruhwedel hooking penalty on Ovi before Niskanen bought a tripping penalty on Simon late to get the Caps into the PP Havers category.
After the Pens PK nearly got themselves a shorty at one end, WSH countered with speed and got it in deep, forcing the PK to chase the puck more than they probably should have. Oshie and Kuznetsov went to work on Maatta and Sheahan on the half wall, bumping it back to Carlson at the point to Johnny Cash, waiting for bodies to line up in the shooting lane. A slight gap opened just enough between Maatta and Ruhwedel and Carlson hammered it through, leaving Murray no chance.
WSH – 1st Pd./18:55 – Connolly; A: Vrana, Eller – 2-1
And 33 seconds later, the Caps were stunningly ahead. Some disjointed shit through the neutral zone finally turned the puck to Oleksiak to quickly hit Hornqvist on the right wing. He did the dirty work, chipping the puck in deep and getting support from Malkin. This is where the wheels fell off.
It was here that Malkin quickly looked to get it to the point for a shot, but instead he found no one but Jake Vrana. Vrana shifted it to Eller and they went on to exit their zone and get it 200′ away from their goal. Oleksiak went back to gather, got some support from Jultz and Phil!, but it was Eller and Vrana coming away with possession. The latter fed Connolly hanging out on his own to throw one at the net that went off Hornqvist and through the wickets of Murr. Tough, tough bounce.
PIT – 2nd Pd./4:43 – PPG – Crosby; A: Phil!, Jultz – 2-2
With 2 seconds left in the first period, Ovi found himself in the box for hooking Dumoulin to give the Pens nearly the full 2 minutes to open the 2nd with a fresh sheet of powerplay ice. The Caps killed it only to see Ovi back in the bin for slashing Gene just 4:24 into the period.
The Penguanos powerplay was not to be fucked with this time around. With Phil! looking more like Phil! this game, it’s no coincidence that the powerplay was clicking too. Everything ran through him and as the Pens worked the perimeter, he collected the cross-ice pass from Jultz to walk into the space given to him and wire a vintage Phil! shot that ended up beating Holtby after first finding itself going off Crosby’s glove.
When shit’s going, it’s going.
PIT – 2nd Pd./7:45 – PPG – Hornqvist; A: Malkin, Phil! – 3-2
About two minutes later, the Pens would head back to the peep after DSP hit Dumo with a nasty, ugly slewfoot. Not sure he meant to do anything but ride Dumoulin into the boards, but this could’ve ended up wayyyyy worse than it did.
Pens were all business again on the man-advantage, running everything through Phil! Again, he had the time and space to pick the right play as Niskanen overcommitted on the shot, instead hitting Hornqvist blasting through the slot with a quick feed to redirect on goal. Hornqvist didn’t stop and admire his shot, crashing the net as Gene banged away to keep the puck alive. Holtby being incapable of keeping himself composed with people jamming shit down his throat, allowed Horny to jam home the loose puck.
Low key gutless move by Niskanen. Doesn’t even bother trying to play the game as long as he has a chance to get a high crosscheck in on someone. You can take the Tom Wilson out of the lineup, but you can’t take the Tom Wilson out of the Capitals.
Pens started really taking over the game, going back to the PP with 3:21 remaining with Hags getting his rocket skates tripped up. But as soon as Crosby got out there 43 seconds into the PP, he got hit with a hooking penalty to even things up before the Caps got their abbreviated PP chance. PK killed it, taking us to the 2nd intermission at 3-2, largely because Matt Murray is extremely good.
WSH – 3rd Pd./0:52 – Kuznetsov; A: Vrana, Niskanen – 3-3
But before you even had a chance to sit down and open exactly one cold one, the Caps were tying this shit up on what should’ve been an easy controlled breakout for the Pens to deal with.
Niskanen got it started, moving it north to Vrana, elevated to the Caps top line in the 3rd in place of DSP. Letang left his post on the right side of the ice, instead jumping over behind Dumo to where Ovi was standing. In doing so, it left Kuznetsov all by himself to streak in on Murr and slip a backhander fivehole. Letang does a lot of everything right, but when he makes even one mistake, it has the tendency to be glaring. This was that.
WSH – 3rd Pd./15:22 – Vrana; A: Ovechkin, Kuznetsov – 4-3
And while the Pens saw more of the puck in the 3rd, it felt like the Caps were sort of imposing their will on the Pens, notching more chances than the flightless ones. Crazy how an early goal does that. But even so, it was the Penguins late on that had the best chance at scoring the game winner as Sheahan took the puck in deep behind Holtby’s net, swung out, and found Dumo coming down Easy Street, only to have the Caps netminder deny his backhand effort.
With Sheahan covering up at the point for Dumo, the Caps smelled blood. Ovi went right at him, took him wide and threw a blind pass back into the slot, getting a slight deflection off Sheahan’s stick for it to land on Vrana’s tape, beating Letang and Murray.
WSH – 3rd Pd./18:29 – ENG – Oshie; A: Kessel – 5-3
With that late goal, the Caps needed to hang out for just 4:38. They did just enough to see Murray vacate his premises with 1:45 left
WSH – 3rd Pd./19:54 – ENG – Eller; A: Penguins – 6-3
And if that wasn’t enough, Beagle, Eller, and Oshie put on the high press after a Crosby faceoff win to force another turnover and release Eller for the finisher.
Series returns to the Paint Can Monday night. No fucking around now. Bury them. LGP.