The Pittsburgh Penguins came into DC to play the Washington Capitals a little uneasy on their season, lacking a lot of confidence and not finding an offensive gear. The Caps, on the other hand, were an offensive juggernaut and winners of 5 straight, firing on all cylinders.
Their engine went cold Wednesday night, courtesy of Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Pens netminder stopped 33 of 34 shots, a lot coming in flurries to again guide the Penguins to a win. The Pens would have to pull a third period comeback (and yes, they are capable of doing that) after Evgeni Kuznetsov finally broke the scoreless tie 1:28 into the third period.
Kuznetsov goal pic.twitter.com/QK67IqzMkV— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 29, 2015
Could Rob Scuderi have any wider of a stance there?...Not a good look from the vet defenseman. A bit unlucky, but as you often have to say about Scuderi, he shouldn't even put himself in such a situation anyways.
Down 1-0 on the road, with nothing going their way, the Pens turned to.... Beau Bennett ?
Yep, Bennett streaked down the right wing, and as is his custom threw a hard shot to the cross-side of the net. Braden Holtby made the first save but the puck dropped for Bennett, who did well to follow his shot and bury the rebound.
Bennett ties the game pic.twitter.com/BOC96X3vbG— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 29, 2015
Kudos to Brooks Orpik for coasting in, stick parallel into the ice, no threat to playing defense.
Tied at 1, the Pens took the lead off a sublime pass from Evgeni Malkin to Phil Kessel in the dangerous area in front. A player like Kessel isn't going to miss from there, and nice to see Malkin feed him.
Phil Kessel go-ahead goal pic.twitter.com/JnfIlw3ZiB— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 29, 2015
another GIF of the Kessel goal, more specifically, the beauty of a pass by Malkin pic.twitter.com/qmuRNnxuAK— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 29, 2015
Also, does David Perron make a "Mario in Salt Lake City" level heady play by letting the puck go by him, or is his stick just lifted?
Regardless, Pittsburgh would cling to the lead until the Caps pulled Holtby and Nick Bonino skied a long OH NO YOU IDIOT THAT'S GONNA BE ICING, oh wait it's a goal. Nice play all along.
Bonino seals the Pens win with an empty net goal pic.twitter.com/PJvF7HGEIx— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 29, 2015
A few more thoughts:
- Another game, another dreadful night by the Penguins power play.. 0 for 3 tonight, all coming in the first period and including 1:45 of 5v3 time. The personnel was right, but the decisions they are making are clueless. There is no set plans. The passes are not sharp. No one is a designated shooter. Guys float here and there. Shots are missing the net. It's not pretty and it needs attention.
- And hey, wouldn't you know, after the Pens get the game's first 3 power plays (2 admittedly on fairly weak calls), Washington coach Barry Trotz has a talk with the refs - according to nerdnik Pierre McGuire- and then the rest of the game no more penalties on Washington, who gets a tidy and coincidental 3 power play chances of their own. Funny how even NHL justice works.
- The Caps won some faceoffs late to make it respectable, but the Pens pretty much took their lunch money all night in the circle, winning 55% on the night, and a much higher percentage in the early periods. This translated directly into more puck possession and was a welcome way to keep the high powered Washington team off the scoreboard in the first two periods.
- Even though he had a whopping 11 shot attempts (5 of which on net) and 4 hits, that's about as quiet a game, impact wise, as you'll see Alex Ovechkin have against the Pens.
- That said, his nemesis Crosby only had 4 SOG (3 in the first period) and was relatively quiet as well, though he did win 18 of 26 faceoffs for a nice 69%.
- Nice goal by Bennett, now please don't get hurt.
- A little chemistry shown with Malkin and Kessel there in the 3rd? Might be early to pronounce that, but always sweet to see 2 skilled players making magic for a goal.
- Bonino had a goal, an assist, 4 blocked shots, 59% night in the faceoff circle and a team high 3:28 TOI while short-handed. Someone hand that man an Iron City.
- Sloppy night with the puck, Ian Cole . A couple of turnovers almost cost the Pens, but Fleury stood tall.
- And we'll leave it with Fleury. He's consistently been the Pens best player all season and tonight was absolutely no different. Magnificent night for the Flower, who seems calm, poised and the puck looks like a (stoppable) beach ball for him out there.