RECAP 4: Pens storm back for 5-4 win over Caps after horrid start

RECAP 4: Pens storm back for 5-4 win over Caps after horrid start


RECAP 4: Pens storm back for 5-4 win over Caps after horrid start


The Penguins remained in the win column after a 5-4 comeback victory over the Washington Capitals, bringing their record to 2-2-0 on the season.

They got off to a rancid start in this game. Not only was their goaltending extremely suspect (more on this later), their energy was nonexistent.

The first period had some eerily similar vibes to the Penguins’ game 4 qualifying round loss to the Canadiens months ago. They had no idea how to counterattack, they were getting outskated and losing every puck battle.

They got their act together for the second and third period and controlled play for stretches throughout, but a failure to play a solid, full 60 minutes is a recurring theme for this team and it cannot continue.

Shot attempts were 55-47 in favor of the Penguins. They had 26 scoring chances to Washington’s 20, as well as a 2.7-2.55 advantage in expected goals, per Evolving Hockey.



After just one practice with the team, Kasperi Kapanen made his much anticipated debut with the Penguins. He skated on the fourth line with Teddy Blueger and Colton Sceviour, and had an occasional shift with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin’s line.

Sam Lafferty came out of the lineup for Kapanen, and now finds himself on the team’s taxi squad.

Casey DeSmith made his second consecutive start between the pipes.

1st period

WSH Goal – Eller (1) A: Oshie, Panik [4:55] 1-0 WSH

Washington got on the board less than five minutes into the game when Lars Eller swept a wrist shot past DeSmith on the short side. This is a shot that needs to be stopped.

PIT Goal – Sceviour (1) A: Blueger, Kapanen [16:52] 1-1

The Penguins tied the game on the back of Kapanen, who skated the puck out of the d-zone with a full-head of steam before firing a wrist shot that handcuffed Washington goalie Vitek Vanecek. The puck wound up loose in the crease before Sceviour ended up burying it.

WSH Goal – Wilson (2) A: Ovechkin [16:58] 2-1 WSH

Washington retook the lead mere seconds later when Tom Wilson’s wrist shot fluttered off DeSmith’s shoulder to the back of the net.

WSH Goal – Wilson (3) A: Carlson [19:43] 3-1 WSH

Wilson gave the Capitals a two-goal advantage with 17 seconds remaining in the period after burying a cross-ice feed between DeSmith’s legs.

It looked as though Brian Dumoulin was late picking up his man, but Pettersson made a terrible line-change that didn’t give Dumoulin a chance to get in the play.

2nd period

PIT PP Goal – Guentzel (1) A: Rust, Crosby [5:45] 3-2 WSH

Jake Guentzel cut Washington’s lead to one on a pretty passing play with a 5-on-3 power play.

WSH Goal – Kuznetsov (1) A: Sprong, Vrana [8:16] 4-2 WSH

The Capitals got a goal back shortly after when DeSmith kicked a rebound to Evgeny Kuznetsov as he was crashing the net. He made no mistake and buried it past a sprawling DeSmith.

PIT SH Goal – Blueger (1) A: DeSmith [15:07] 4-3 WSH

Perhaps the sole bright spot for DeSmith on the night, he made an incredible stretch pass to spring Blueger on a breakaway while the Penguins were shorthanded by two men.

Similarly to Guentzel’s shootout winner Sunday, Blueger went forehand-backhand-fivehole to bring the game within a goal. I’m noticing a ton of goals around the NHL are being scored with this move to start the season. It’s something to keep an eye on.

PIT PP Goal – Malkin (1) A: Letang, Crosby [17:15] 4-4

Malkin picked up his first of the season with a rocket over the shoulder of Vanecek to tie the game.

3rd period

Unlike the third period of Sunday’s game, both teams appeared more aggressive and willing to take some risks. The Penguins had the better of the chances, but neither team could convert.

To overtime we go, once again.


PIT Goal – Crosby (3) A: Letang, Guentzel [1:11] 5-4 PIT

Just over a minute into the extra frame, the captain showed some incredible edge work to bury a rebound and win the game off a Kris Letang one-timer.

This is the kind of goal Penguins fans live for. Remember to appreciate every second Crosby spends on the ice. In the wise words of Ferris Bueller, if you don’t stop to take a look around once in a while, you might miss it.



  • Kapanen was easily one of the Penguins’ best skaters tonight. He picked up a secondary assist on Sceviour’s goal and was the sole reason the chance was created. With him on the ice in 10 minutes at 5v5, shot attempts were 14-3 for the Penguins and they controlled 95% (!!) of the expected goals. His speed and hands were very apparent. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t start the game on Crosby’s wing Friday night.
  • Crosby (1 G, 2 A) and Guentzel (1 G, 1 A) were dominant. They both played at least 17:30 at 5v5, in which the Penguins controlled 65+% of the shot attempts and 87% of the expected goals.
  • Casey DeSmith let in some real stinkers and it’s looking like the Penguins have a legitimate problem in goal. They have given up the second most goals in the NHL (18) and carry the league’s worst save-percentage (0.819). If they don’t start getting some quality performances from one of their two netminders, their hopes of a playoff spot will not last for long.
  • It won’t be talked about because he finally scored, but Malkin got murdered. In 14:27 at 5v5, the Penguins managed to get just two shots on goal from six attempts, while the Capitals got nine shots on target from 18 attempts. Scoring chances were 11-1 for the Capitals, and expected goals were 1.09-0.09 for the visitors, resulting in a pathetic 7.6% expected goals share for Malkin.
  • Defenseman Marcus Pettersson only played 11 and a half minutes before he was blindsided and taken out of the game by a TJ Oshie hit. Oshie was initially given a five-minute major, but after discussion from the refs, it was rescinded to a two-minute minor. Pettersson is being evaluated for an upper-body injury, per Mike Sullivan.
  • Defenseman Juuso Riikola played just a hair over eight minutes due to an injury he sustained during the game. It wasn’t apparent to me what play he was injured on, but he did not skate at all in the third period. He, too, is being evaluated for an upper-body injury, per Sullivan.

The Penguins return to action Friday night and will host the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena.

Thanks for reading! Let’s talk hockey on Twitter. Follow me @shireyirving.

Data from Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick

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