Simeon Varlamov saves Capitals, shuts down Penguins 3-2

  • The action was nonstop right out of the gate.  After nearly four minutes of hockey, including crushing hits on Max Talbot and Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby crossed over the blue line and let go of a wrister that beat Simeon Varlamov glove side.  Sid got another chance minutes later on a breakaway but was unable to control the puck and sent it just wide of the net.
  • The Capitals needed only three shots to get a goal, a charge-to-the-crease rebound goal by David Steckel to tie it at one.  Fleury's inability to control the rebound played a huge factor on this one.
  • With about 3 minutes to go in the first, former Caps Matt Cooke took a stupid penalty while the Pens were already on the penalty kill to give the Caps a 5-on-3 PP chance.  Bad idea.  The ridiculously stupid "speer" by Cooke led to an Alex Ovechkin PP goal. Bench/scratch/punch Cooke.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury was in high demand early on in the second.  Too many Pittsburgh turnovers left MAF on edge and at times very grateful for the crossbar.
  • Mark Eaton tied the game on a shot from the point that at first looked like an easy save.  You can blame it on Eaton's shot velocity or Varlamov's poor posture but either way it went in to tie it up at two.  The goal officially puts Eaton's postseason goal total at three, one short of his regular season total (and in 61 less games).
  • With less than a minute remaining in the second Kunitz and Crosby skated into the Caps' zone on a perfectly executed cross-crease one-timer that caught Varlamov out of position.  Or so it seemed.  If Fleury had the save of the series in Round One this one is easily a contender for top save in Round Two.  And it's only the first game...
  • A defensive breakdown, to put it gently, allowed Washington to jump out to a quick 3-2 lead in the third thanks to a Tomas Fleischmann goal.  Fleury was beat point blank.  Nothing you can do there but play the percentages.  That goal, along with a strong showing from Varlamov, would wind up being all the Caps would need to close this one out.

On four separate occasions today the Pens registered only ONE SHOT while on the PP.  It's not like we can exactly expect them to convert on every chance, but at the least they can put more shots on net.  Very poor outing.

Way too many turnovers this game on both sides of the puck but it would seem Pittsburgh picked up more than Washington.  Perhaps it wasn't so much a matter of turnovers but instead strong forechecks from both teams.  I suppose Game 2 will help clear that up a bit more.

Case and point, it's still early.  It's only one game.  As Hooks pointed out in the pregame, out of seven previous playoff meetings the Caps have won Game 1 six times.  You can now make that seven of eight.  A split series heading back to Pitt would be ideal.

Evgeni Malkin better show up to Game 2. That's all I'm going to say about that right now.

If you had to pick just one, who do you attribute to this outcome?  Varly's save on Sid or Orpik's failure to cover Fleischmann?  I'll hold off on my pick until I hear from you guys...

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