First minute of the period Evgeni Malkin springs Chris Kunitz for a clean breakaway that he doesn't get a good shot off on (imagine that). Puck goes the other way and Trevor Daley gets beaten by a nice saucer pass from Nicklas Backstrom to find a streaking Andre Burakovsky who got past Olli Maatta who was coasting for some reason. Burakovsky goes 5-hole on Marc-Andre Fleury to put a damper on the party.
Another look at Burakovsky's goal. He went five hole on MAF. pic.twitter.com/5LtRB8dXZW— Ian Oland (@ianoland) October 14, 2016
The Penguins stabilize, but put the Capitals on two first period power plays. Luckily they don't score on them. Tom Sestito and Tom Wilson fights, with the Pens player getting the better of it. Meh. At least Wilson can't board anyone when in the penalty box.
— Allie C (@Allie874) October 14, 2016
Eric Fehr rings a puck off the post early but it stays out of the net.
Then a glorious passing play gives Sestito an almost open net from right in front!! He tosses the puck back into Braden Holtby instead of scoring but man what a chance. Against the Caps top line and first pair, no less!
The Pens PP strikes to tie the game. Patric Hornqvist redirects a Kris Letang point shot in the high slot. Looked close to being a high-stick but video ruled it valid.
Patric Hornqvist has 4 points (3G-1A) in his last 4 home games vs. the Capitals (regular season and playoffs). pic.twitter.com/mySm9tVtap— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 14, 2016
The Caps woeful defense strikes again, Dmitry Orlov realizes he's going to be crushed by Hornqvist and throws a meatball up the middle of the ice that TJ Oshie tries to chip it. John Carlson has already flown the zone so when Conor Sheary intercepts the puck, no one is left by Holtby...Except Malkin. Malkin makes a move, beats Holtby like the proverbial rented mule. 2-1 Pens.
He's Malkin it look easy. pic.twitter.com/3msUIOv9Xi— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 14, 2016
Justin Williams, apparently not already content with his current level of dishonor, takes raises (lowers?) the bar by slinging Malkin into the boards neck first.
justin williams is a human trash can https://t.co/QCmGTAJ9X0— the chad (@MadChad412) October 14, 2016
The Caps 2nd line strikes again to tie the game, Backstrom makes a great drop pass to Burakovsky who rifles a monster shot by Fleury to make it 2-2.
Not too much else, back and forth, Fleury with a nice stop on Marcus Johansson, Holtby returns the favor late with a stop on Hornqvist.
3-on-3 is insane. Chances at both ends for each team. Washington gets the best but Fleury stands strong.
--Oshie the shootout king, yes. No moves, good patience and he snaps the puck 5-hole.
--Malkin, yes, snaps a puck over the glove of Holtby on a quick shot
--Evgeny Kuznetsov, save made on a 5-hole effort
--Letang dipsy-do's and dunkaroos with some slick dekes and a quick 5-hole shot
--Backstrom on a must scoree skates in slowly and beats MAF 5-hole...Sensing a trend here
--Phil Kessel rips a shot high, off the post and IN!
--Ovechkin do or die tries to go backhand, fails.
- A mark against both members of the Maatta/Daley pair for their respective play on the first goal against. Both a little lax with their decisions, but let's also remember they got beat by skilled players making skilled plays, which is going to happen playing defense at the NHL level.
- Letang has said he wants to shoot more on power plays. (Sidebar: The Letang doesn't shoot enough/ is bad at hitting net on PP enough is a bit of a misnomer, he's 25th out of 51 defensemen in shots/60 in the last 2 seasons on a PP that's based off puck movement, not point shots). Anyways, a shooting mentality on the Penguins power play (known to get too cute with one too many passes) isn't a bad thing. It generated the first goal for Pittsburgh.
- Deep into the 2nd period, John Carlson had the puck on his stick and some room in the offensive zone. He released a shot but it was blocked by a sliding Penguin. It was Evgeni Malkin. In the first game of the season. Excellent drive and desire shown by Geno there.
- Per the incomparable Bob Grove, Alex Ovechkin now 0 goals, 0 assists in last 6 regular season games vs Pittsburgh. Only really notable since AO has 27 career reg season goals against the Pens, but luckily he's been human and quiet against Pittsburgh lately. (Also a credit to Letang, Fleury and Brian Dumoulin on a night like tonight).
- The next Grover note: Malkin without Crosby in reg season: 65g+86a for 151p in 112 games (1.35 ppg). Always seems to raise his game when the Pens need him to be "the guy" and tonight was no exception with a goal and assist.
- Eric Fehr had 4 shot attempts and his velocity looked to the eye to be way up from last year. One year out from his major elbow surgery he looked a lot more dangerous with the puck.
- Whale of a job by Fleury, after giving up the goal in the first minute (with no help from his pals on defense) he really settled in and played a solid game. The goal in the 3rd, not much he could do either. Ends up with 39 saves on 41 shots and a few in the shootout to to get the 2nd point in the standings.
- No Crosby to draw away defensive assignments, so HBK had more quality competition to deal with. They did have a few scoring chances (and 7 combined shots on goal) but no paydirt tonight.
- With all the scrums, punches, tie-ups, this game had the intensity and feel more of a playoff game than October opener. Not unusual any time the Pens and Caps lock horns.
Pensburgh 3 stars of the game (tracking this all season for the 3 best Pens performances of the night)
*** Letang (game high 30:40 played, 4 shots on goal, 1 assist, 5 hits, 4 blocked shots, 1 takeaway, 1 shootout goal)
** Malkin (1 goal, 1 assist, 1 shootout goal, 3 SOG, 2 blocked shots)
* Fleury (39/41 saves, win)
The big guns were the best players, and you need that.
Two great teams lock horns, it takes a shootout which is anticlimactic after such an intense game, but hey. A win is a win is a win. The Pens just beat the Caps (again) and didn't even have Crosby. Gotta take that everyday of the week.
Can't win 'em all if you can't win the first one. Go champs.