It was the inaugural Capitals disappointment at the hands of the Penguins.
In typical Pens-Caps fashion, it didn’t matter that this was just the 4th game of the season. They got that feel good feeling-out process done and over with early before giving this game a playoff feel.
But much like the playoffs, the Capitals lost it in the 2nd.
After weathering an early storm, the Penguins were able to take the game by the scruff of its neck, led by 3 powerplay goals, to barrel their way to an early season victory in probably the only real Wednesday Night Rivalry game of year. They did let the Caps hang around for a bit last night, but they have more than their fair share of experience dealing with them hanging around longer than they should in May to ever really be worried.
Things of note: Hornqvist made his season debut after recovering from offseason hand surgery and had himself a game. Ruhwedel stepped in for the Faceless Cole.
PIT – 1st Pd./5:22 – PPG – Letang; A: Rust, Hornqvist – 1-0
After the aforementioned feeling out process to start the hockey match, the Penguins drew one of those new age slashing penalties on Riskanen after he chopped at Rust’s twig. Gotta say, it’s great to see the terrible hockey player version of Matt Niskanen back, baby. Because, boy, was he shit last night. The Caps turned out to have the better of the chances with a couple shorthanded odd-man breaks, but allegedly only Ovi is allowed to score for them this early in the season. It was always going to be a greasy goal to open the scoring and the Pens got just that late in the peep after shit settled down a little bit, which isn’t to take away from the passing sequence that led to the opener. Washington was pulled apart at the seams chasing the puck around before Sheary, Horny, and Rust banged that shit loose to Letang all alone on the back stick.
PIT – 2nd Pd./8:20 – PPG – Hornqvist; A: Kuhnhackl, Crosby – 2-0
After a mass amount of penalties throughout the rest of the 1st, including someone letting Holtby off his leash, the Pens went on their 4th PP of the game with 13:34 remaining in the 2nd after Djoos went off for tripping Big Dick Patric. Again, it was a scrum in front of the net created by Hornqvist. Again it was with under 10 seconds remaining in the PP. Again, it was a ton of movement that opened up the Caps. Hunwick and Sheary combined along the wall to disjoint the PK before working it to 87. A bit of a lucky bounce again, but the turmoil in front from the Kuhn and Horny let 72 jam it down their throats.
WSH – 2nd Pd./19:07 – Djoos; A: Eller, Connolly – 2-1
That 2nd goal gave the Pens all they needed to take over and lock in the 2 points on the night. Like making it to a Game 7 in the 2nd round, the Caps got a little hope in making it out alive only to have those hopes dashed 91 seconds later. This hope came in the form of Christian Djoos’ first NHL goal as the Pens were their own undoing. Washington caught them on a bad change and moved the puck high faster than El Chapo moved bricks. Four guys in the D zone chasing the puck freed Djoos to take an Eller feed for the 1T and beat Murr.
PIT – 3rd Pd./0:38 – PPG – Sheary; A: Schultz, Maatta – 3-1
A late goal should’ve given the Caps life. But this is Washington, after all. Any semblance of progress is swiftly met with someone vomiting all over it and threatening to nuke it. Last night, that came from Alex Chaisson as he put the Pens on their 6th PP with 4.5 seconds left in the 2nd.
It would take just 38 seconds into the 3rd for the Pens to pump their load into the belly of the Beast. About halfway through the game, HCMS flipped Crosby and McKegg so 87 could center Hornqvist and Sheary. Those three, along with Jultz and Maatta, ran the early powerplay. Holtby was sharp, robbing Jultz on the Ryan Whitney Play, but after Maatta held the clearing attempt in at the point, he put the puck back on 4’s twig to thread the needle and give Sheary a simple tap tap taperoo. Passes like that are considered pornography in 29 states.
WSH – 3rd Pd./12:51 – Ovechkin; A: Djoos, Backstrom – 3-2
By the time there were about 7 minutes left, the Capitals realized that this game wasn’t, in fact, over after the 2nd phase. The Penguins had shit locked down for most of the 3rd frame, but on Ovechkin’s 7th (!!!!) shot of the game, he potted his 8th goal of this young season after a defensive breakdown from the Penguins. Backstrom filtering up high started the communication breakdown. Malkin sticking with Vrana driving through the middle combining with Ruhwedel doing…something…opened up the seam through the slot. Could’ve landed a fucking 737 in that space created. Jultz was tied up with Ovi in front, leaving Ruhwedel on no one and Phil to keep an eye on both Djoos and Orpik. But Djoos is healthy for you, so he went unnoticed, taking the Backstrom feed and giving Ovi the easiest goal of his career.
That’d be all she wrote as the Penguins survived the 2 minute 6v5 onslaught to head to Tampa with 5 points from 4 games.
- Fucking this. This is goddamn incredible.
- Both goaltenders were very strong. Murray would probably like the Djoos goal back, but his timely saves were…timely.
- Holtby, on the other hand, was the difference between this game being just a 3-2 game. At 5v5, he was a stud, stopping all 26 shots he faced.
- Obviously, the Pens powerplay was the difference. They may score 5342 powerplay goals this year if the refs continue to call things this way. I, for one, am not a huge fan of the new ticky tacky slashing calls, but I am a huge fan of 87, 71, and 81 scoring a bajillion powerplay points.
- Olli Maatta may be back, folks. He had a bit of a rough go in the possession game (thanks, Chad), but his skating and overall play looked more like rookie season Olli. For fuck’s sake, he was winning foot races to loose pucks and shit. Oh, and he has 4 points in as many games.
- Related: Letang and Dumoulin own together. At 5v5, they played just under 15 minutes and were on the ice for 20 shot attempts for and just 8 against, good for 62.5% possession share.
Pens are back at it tonight at 7:30 as they head to Tampa to take on the Bolts. Do it.