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Penguins vs. Capitals recap, score: Sullivan era starts with a loss

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The Pittsburgh Penguins lose Mike Sullivan's first game to the Washington Capitals 4-1. Evgeni Malkin scores the only goal for the good guys, stifled by a great game by Caps goalie Braden Holtby.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Mike Sullivan era in Pittsburgh got underway for the Penguins with a home game against the Capitals.

The Goals

Things didn't start well. T.J. Oshie bulled past Brian Dumoulin and then Ben Lovejoy backed too far off Nicklas Backstrom, seeming to point for a back-checking forward to cover him and fading too deep to the far forward (where Chris Kunitz was already in the neighborhood anyways). Backstrom had the easy opportunity to fire away, and didn't miss his mark on Marc-Andre Fleury. 1-0 Caps.

Washington would make it 2-0 with John Carlson making good on his second chance in a quick sequence, shortly after Jason Chimera got the better of minor-league defenseman David Warsofsky and Olli Maatta failed in space to clear the Fleury rebound of the first Carlson shot. 2-0 Caps quick into the game.

The Pens would get one goal back when Evgeni Malkin swooped in to deflect a Ben Lovejoy point-shot in past Braden Holtby to give Pittsburgh some life.

Beau Bennett would leave the game and not return after a big hit from Oshie. It's certainly a hard hit delivered with bad intentions, but that's hockey as a contact sport. Not boarding, changes his angle to play the shoulder and knock the player off the puck. Sucks Bennett got hurt, but not really a dirty play.

Oshie would keep it going scoring the last two goals of the game, first blowing by Ian Cole for a wraparound.

Oshie would finish the un-fun party by scoring a 5v3 goal in garbage time after a nice pass from Backstrom.

Some Thoughts

  • First game of Mike Sullivan, meh. Not much different than the prior games, really. The Bennett injury mixed things up.
  • Holtby the story of the game, keeping the puck out of the net and doing more than enough to win. Good game for him. Not sure really that the Pens got a TON of quality chances and hard shots on him, but he was very solid. On the flip side, Fleury arguably had more breakaways/2-on-1's to contend with to hold the Pens in the game, which he did for the majority of the game.
  • Malkin looks very engaged, very frustrated.
  • Daniel Sprong got a chance to play a lot (the Bennett injury again helped) but wasn't very sharp, which isn't a big surprise. Keeping him didn't look like a good choice, but with Pascal Dupuis retired and Bennett perhaps out a while, the Pens could use some skilled wingers.
  • Of the 45 shots on goal for the Pens, no one had more than Olli Maatta 's 6. He was activating all night, playing aggressive and throwing a lot at the net. Looked great out there, probably one of his best games of the season to this point.
  • Nick Bonino got checked by Taylor Chorney, then got an extra cross-check by the former Penguin defenseman and actually dropped the gloves. Only the Pens 3rd fight this season, the crowd was very stoked even if it wasn't a great fight. The fight was noteworthy if only because they so rarely happen these days.
  • Very surprisingly, tonight was the first time that Backstrom has scored a regular season goal against Fleury. Wouldn't have guessed that, but saw it via the Caps people.
  • The biggest and best part of today, long after memory of this forgettable game has faded will be Rob Scuderi (who was pulled off the team at warm ups) was traded to Chicago during the game for defenseman Trevor Daley. Trade recap here.