Home ice has prevailed so far, but the signs are good for Pittsburgh. They've outshot the Caps every single game. They've outworked their opponents throughout large parts of gameplay. They keep working, chipping and tonight they got 5 past a rookie goalie who's finally looking like he's in a little over his head.
- A lot will be made, and for good reason, about Alex Ovechkin's knee-on-knee hit to Sergei Gonchar. Ovechkin made the split second decision to go in for a hit in hopes to disrupt the outlet pass and, to me, appeared to stick his leg out and that's what ended up leading with contact. Hopefully Gonchar didn't suffer a major injury. We'll see. Ovechkin's a physical player, and physical players sometimes get caught in gray zones. Chris Kunitz drilled AO in the 3rd period and don't think a guy like Brooks Orpik won't be looking for a big (clean) hit if it presents itself.
- That's all I'm going to say about it for now, except for that Caps fans, players, the coach, the GM and the owner have commented about the disparity of the penalties called. The fact that Ovechkin only got a 2 minute minor -- and not a major or game misconduct -- pretty much levels the playing field a lot.
- Outside of that incident, Ovechkin got just 2 shots on goal. The Rob Scuderi / Hal Gill pairing is really doing great on him at even strength; the Pens are showing great gap control and keeping him to the outside. Apart from the strange Marc-Andre Fleury losing his stick then the crazy bounce in the open of Game 3, Ovechkin has not scored at even strength when matched against Gill/Scuderi.
- Ruslan Fedotenko is continuing to dig and continuing to get on the board. While he may not be reverting to 2003-04 playoff form (where he scored 12 goals in 22 games for the Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning) Tank has been playing like a top 6 winger of late. Which is huge since not many Caps wingers are playing like top 6 guys.
- Simeon Varlamov, he of just six NHL regular season games and now ten playoff games, is starting to fade. Coach Bruce Boudreau in his post-game press conference, said that four of the goals were soft. Boudreau also said he expected to start Varlamov for Game 5. We'll see how "Varly" responds.
- Great play by Bill Guerin that lead to his goal. Mike Green weakly played the puck off the wall and Guerin held it in the zone. Billy G got it to Kunitz, who found Sidney Crosby all alone in front of the net (where's the other D?). Crosby got two hacks at the puck, but credit Varlamov for the stops. However the goalie couldn't corral the rebound and Guerin streaked in, outworking Sergei Fedorov and Brooks Laich to finish it.
- The game winner was scored by Crosby but the credit belongs to Miroslav Satan who showed great patience and then made an unreal pass for the easy goal. Through banishment to the minors and healthy scrathes, Satan has hung in there like a trooper. Good on him for still having the confidence to make a great play.
- The game was finally sealed on a great effort by, who else, Max Talbot. The goal may have been a little suspect but the hustle can't be knocked.
In general the Caps looked gassed. How are they gonna respond with less than 24 hours until Game 5? They do have the benefit of knowing they'll be in their home arena in front of their fans (where they've beaten the Pens twice) but I think that's about it. The Penguins have all the momentum, all the confidence and quite frankly I think it's a good thing there's virtually no time to rest and regroup.
Bring on Game 5, bring on Verizon Center, and hopefully, bring on the first series lead for the Penguins.
6 wins down, 10 more to go!!!!