Back-to-back games and back-to-back wins for the Penguins. No Sergei Gonchar? No problem tonight.
As Bruce Boudreau said in his press conference (possibly I'm paraphrasing a little): "I thought we had our best game of the series, they still got 42 shots on goal". That's a mark that even when the Caps have been at their best, they couldn't hold the Pens from getting a lot of shots and chances.
In the four regular season meetings, the Capitals out-shot the Penguins every single game. Through five playoff games, Pittsburgh has turned the tables and out-shot Washington every game. I don't think it can be stressed how huge reversal that is and how it speaks to the Pens controlling the puck and keeping it in the Caps zone and not allowing Washington's skill players to do what they want to do for long stretches of time. That's probably the biggest factor about why the Penguins are now up 3-2 in this series.
- Ruslan Fedotenko with 10 shots on goal tonight. He certainly looks like he's gained a lot of confidence from the weak goal he scored in Game 4. 'Tank's goal in the opening minute of the 3rd period -- which tied the game at 2 -- gave the Penguins life. Fedotenko famously scored 12 goals in 22 games to tie for the lead on Tampa Bay Lightning on the way to the Stanley Cup...And with 3 goals in 3 games, old Rusty is starting to heat up and get back to that form.
- As you'd expect, Alex Ovechkin was Alex Ovechkin. He got his first goal when Brooks Orpik backed away from him (not keeping in the tight gap coverage that Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill usually keep on #8) and AO scored the game tying goal on a great pass from Nick Backstrom. As we've preached here, you have to maintain the coverage on Ovechkin at all times, and when it slips, even for a second, that's when he burns you.
- The Penguins 3rd line of Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy, combined for 2 goals (on 11 shots on goal), 2 assists and a +5. Staal and Cooke scored their first goals of the playoffs. Conversely the Caps regular 3rd line of Matt Bradley - David Steckel - Chris Clark got 0 goals (5 shots), 0 assists and was a combined -2. In a series that's testing depth players, the Pens "lesser lights" were flat out better and more productive than their counter-parts on this night.
- On the Simeon Varlamov watch, he probably stops the Staal and Fedotenko goal a couple of games ago. But, for the second game in a row, he's not been the Iron Wall. Still, Varlamov did his part to make several great saves on "sure" goals to hold the Caps in the game. You can't blame him, but he wasn't good enough to win.
- Marc-Andre Fleury still won't get much appreciation for his efforts, but that's cool. MAF is now 5-0 in post-season overtime games. He didn't really have a chance on either Ovechkin goal, and Backstrom added one on the power-play on a great give and go with Sergei Fedorov. Fleury had a few solid stops of his own, and he also held his team in to give them a chance to win. And win they did.
- The Caps, when pressing for a goal, switched and put Fedorov and Mike Green back on defense. Expect that to happen again next game, especially if the Caps fall behind.
- The game-winner, unfortunately for him, went off of Tom Poti, sliding back to block Malkin's passing lane to Sidney Crosby. Bad luck for sure to see the puck go in on a bad bounce, but if that puck goes through, arguably Crosby buries it. Poti had to take it away, so credit Malkin for taking the puck hard to the net at the end of his nearly 2 minute power-play shift.
Now a day break and a chance for both teams to catch their breaths.
As they say at Japers Rink: win one game. Do it
four three two one time. Seriously, do it.
7 wins down, 9 more until Sidney Crosby raises Stanley's Cup.