The Pittsburgh Penguins kept digging out of holes and eventually pulled out a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals. The win gives the Pens 13 straight at home, and boosts them to 14-2-1 in their last 17 games overall.
Again dressing a depleted roster with James Neal (upper body) out of the lineup, the Penguins found contributions up and down the lineup again. Pittsburgh came out the gates strong, getting 17 first period shots on Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, but it'd be the Caps to score first after Kris Letang made a ghastly mistake on the power play.
Undeterred, Letang tied the game at one on a nice transition rush. That pattern would twice more repeat with Washington scoring a goal to take a lead, and then Pittsburgh scoring a few minutes later to tie, as Jussi Jokinen did about mid-way through the third period to even the score at 3.
Then, with 1:54 left, Olli Maatta faked a shot and stepped around fellow 2012 first round pick Tom Wilson and Maatta put a shot on goal that had enough traffic to elude Neuvirth and find the net. That'd be the difference of the game to give the Penguins their sixth straight win against the Capitals.
Some more thoughts on the game:
- Letang give-th and Letang take-th. His play on the first goal was a horrible pass that he couldn't cover up and ended up in his net. He was also played out of position on a 4 on 4 situation and didn't look like he knew where to go (reverting back to playing defense) and the puck ended up in his net. But, he also did score a goal for the Pens, so at least the damage was tangibly minimized.
- Easily the best showing in the six game Penguin career for Taylor Pyatt. Pyatt got moved up to the Evgeni Malkin line in Neal's absence and recorded his first goal as a Pen. He also was credited with 5 hits and looked pretty decent along the boards, finally using his size on the cycle.
- Malkin and Sidney Crosby looked engaged in the game, as per usual against Alex Ovechkin and the Caps. The Pens centers each had 4 shots on goal and a takeaway, to go along with a couple of scoring chances generated. Each finished with a primary assist too.
- In 8:33 of even strength ice-time, Zach sill managed to be on the ice for 1 Corsi event for and 21 against. Woof. That's gotta be some sort of record for the team this year.
- On a night with so many forwards out of the lineup, the Penguins defense put 14 shots on goal and put up two goals and three assists. Washington forwards often collapsed defensively down toward their nets, and Pittsburgh used the open point-men frequently and with success.
A rare lull in the schedule finds the Penguins idle until Monday and they actually won't practice until Saturday. A well deserved green light.