As far as regular season games go, this was one for the ages. In a similar fashion to the seven game playoff series the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals played last spring, both teams were fired up and came to impress. Superstars Sidney Crosby (2 goals) and Alex Ovechkin (3 goals, 1 assist) showed up and left their impression on the game, and the secondary stars of Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Nicklas Backstrom all recorded two points, with Mike Green also finding the scoresheet.
The Pens jumped up early, scoring four of the games first five goals. Crosby scored the only two goals of the first period, Ovechkin cut the lead to one with a breakaway goal. Staal would score the games next two goals, but Eric Fehr would get the Caps within two before the second intermission.
Just another game, huh?
- The game definitely had the physical mark, and the post-whistle roughness of a playoff match. It's obvious both teams don't like each other and behind their leaders in Sid and AO want to pull out all the stops to get the win.
- Craig Adams hit Ovechkin into the boards from behind in the first period. While it was a bad and dangerous hit (as any hit from behind into the boards), Adams could have absolutely buried Ovechkin and made it a despicable play if he didn't pull up like he did. It's not a hit anyone should make so demerit Adams for that --the play should have been (and wasn't) penalized -- but Adams could have seriously injured AO if it went through his head to not let up and drill him. And he didn't.
- Aside from that play, Ovechkin seemed been hurting in the game, and Crosby pulled up lame after a faceoff. You think either of these guys would miss even a shift against each other? Yeah, right.
- The play Malkin made on Staal's second goal would be made into epic Greek poetry in a different age. Geno stopped a clearing bid, kicked the puck from his skates to his stick, threw some sauce out to Jordan which landed perfectly for J-Staal to finish. It's got to be one of the prettiest plays and best efforts of the season.
- Good sign for Team USA?: Matched up against Ovechkin as many times as possible, Orpik blocked six shots and seemed to take time and space away for many shifts. Of course, Orpik was on the ice for AO's two 3rd period goals and took a penalty that led to the game-winner, so on second thought, maybe not.
- Touching on a point from last games, again here four of the six Penguins defensemen did not register a hit for the second game in a row. Think Ray Shero isn't taking notes? (If you said no, guess again)
- For the Caps looking forward, Tyler Sloan made an ill-idvised pass leading directly to a goal; Tom Poti was falling all over the place on two Pens goals and "Three-or-more" let four by. Of course, Jose Theodore doesn't necessarily project to be the starting playoff goalie, but the Caps adding another defenseman (might be youngster Karl Alzner or John Carlson) could be a needed possibility.
- Seemed like a quiet game from Green and Alex Semin -- two dangerous players who didn't make their marks offensively. Of course Ruslan Fedotenko, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and Bill Guerin didn't produce anything either.
- Even though I didn't think he played poorly, rookie call-up Mark Letestu ended up a -2 in just 4:35 of ice-time. Wanna know how you can ensure a demotion to the AHL when you're a rookie on this team? End up like that -- even if it's not necessarily your fault.
- 14 in a row for the Caps; even when the Red Wings dominate them, others out-shoot them and through injuries/suspensions they keep rolling on. Props to them, obviously, but a win in January/February is a little different than in April/May (as they well know).
- In a game so physical, so chippy and with so many confrontations, where are Donald Brashear and Georges Laraque when they're finally needed?
So you bust ass to get to the game under difficult circumstances , play an awesome 40 but then end up losing. Ahh, at least the Penguins earned a point, eh?