Capitals Blog: Japers Rink
Wow. If this is what we can come to expect in the Winter Classic then fans for both teams definitely have their work cut out for them.
Kicking this off with a fun By the Numbers as pointed out by Leafer87 in the game thread: 23-year-old Sidney Crosby pushed his point streak to 23 games on Dec 23rd. Now, if only he wore number 23. Guess we'll have to wait till he's 87...
The first period was a clear indication as to why the Pens are the league's number-one penalty killing team. And yet even still, Pittsburgh squeaked out of the first period with a 1-0 lead after Sidney Crosby defied the laws of physics on a ridiculous redirect in front of Michal Neuvirth.
Ovechkin might not be on much of an offensive rout lately but it's pretty obvious he's still very much in every game. He was throwing his body around all over the ice, connecting on some solid hits against Evgeni Malkin and Max Talbot in just the first period alone.
It looked like the Pens would have a chance to take a two-goal lead early in the second period when Evgeni Malkin lined up at center ice for a penalty shot, but Neuvirth had his number and a slow-to-form backhand ultimately blanked Geno's attempt.
Later in the second, down by a man, Matt Cooke made an attempt to clear the zone but the Verizon Center industrial fans kicked in and swayed the puck into the crowd down on the Caps' own end. The result sent Cookie to the box and gave the Caps a 5-on-3. As the final seconds began to tick down on the second penalty, Mike Green found the back of the net to tie the game at one.
It took the Pens only one minute and 17 seconds to take the lead in the third period after Chris Kunitz, Sid and Pascal Dupuis crashed the net and produced a nice rebound goal. Kunitz lit the lamp, but Sid registered a hard-earned assist in the process.
The Pens earned a power-play opportunity with about five and a half minutes remaining in the third for a chance to gain the security goal and put the Pens up 3-1. One flubbed pass followed by a desperate dive by Letang and the Caps tied the game on a shorthanded goal from Mike Knuble.
The final minutes of the third ticked down with a few close calls and some nice puck possession on behalf of the Pens, but neither lamp was lit on either side of the rink and the game went into overtime.
In extra time a nifty Green move to the net almost deked Fleury out of his pads entirely but MAF reached back with his mitt and saved it at the last minute. Even though the play was under review, there was absolutely no way the war room could call it a goal since the puck was obviously hidden completely under Fleury's glove. Maybe with a glow puck. Hmmm...
Fortunately, or unfortunately, that was as close as the puck would get to crossing the line in overtime.
In the shootout, Ovechkin notched a nifty backhander that was quickly matched on the other hand by Kris Letang. Alexander Semin missed on a similar Ovechkin backhand move and then Sid took a very un-Sid-like shot from a bit further than you'd expect. Nick Backstrom missed, Evgeni Malkin just barely missed on his chance to redeem from the earlier penalty shot.
This rhythm maintained for a total of seven rounds until Dupuis finally silenced the Verizon Center with the shootout winner.
Pens break for the holidays and return Sunday against the Senators.