he top two teams in the Metropolitan division locked horns a week before playoffs. As you could expect, it was an intense affair- with many twists and turns. Too many, really. Pittsburgh was the better team early, reeling off three straight goals but then giving it all back with the Caps getting two in the 3rd period to send the game to OT.
It only took 44 seconds into the game for the Pens to strike first. Matt Cullen took a defensive zone draw that Tom Kuhnhackl was able to jump on and skate up through the zone. Not sure what Nate Schmidt is thinking here to abandon his side of the ice but it allowed plenty of space for Cullen to take Kuhnhackl's pass and shoot the puck by Braden Holtby.
Scoring early in periods is Cullen's thing, in the second the Pens were short-handed but no matter, Cullen gets the puck past Alex Ovechkin and goes down on a 2-on-1 with Eric Fehr. Cullen pokes the puck to the middle for what looked like a pass but old friend Matt Niskanen gets a piece (thanks Nisky!) and it beats Holtby through the 5-hole.
Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 8, 2016
After the Pens failed to score on a 5 minute power play, would momentum swing to the Caps? Nope. Tom Sestito (!!!) makes a nice carry and pass over to Oskar Sundqvist, who sets up Conor Sheary. Sheary drives to the net and beats Holtby with a shot to make it 3-0 for the good guys.
The Caps score late in the 2nd period to get on the board, with Marcus Johansson converting a really nice slap-pass from John Carlson to slam past Murray.
Washington Capitals (@washcaps) April 8, 2016
Johansson strikes again in the 3rd period, pulling the puck to change the angle and unleashed a super-quick release of a shot that Murray can't catch up with. 3-2 Pens with 9:55 remaining.
The Caps tie the game after a sloppy shift for the Penguins getting too ahead of the puck. Carlson skips a bouncing puck in that Andre Burakovsky tips from the front of the net over Murray to make it 3-3.
Sidney Crosby steps on the ice in OT, the Caps don't pick him up but Kris Letang sure does and wires a great pass up for him. Crosby. Capitals. Breakaway. Yeah, you know what happens next.
Crosby OT winner pic.twitter.com/C5uPuMTcxe— Stephanie (@myregularface) April 8, 2016
Ballgame. Pens win 8th in a row.
- Beau Bennett practiced this morning and took the pre-game warmup but was made a "healthy" (?) scratch in favor of the team playing Tom Sestito. Conor Sheary has a heck of a black eye after taking a stick to the face on Tuesday night, but was able to play, and indeed score.
- In fact, Sheary was a demon that whole 3rd period, looking shot out of a cannon and making plays happen with his speed.
- Cullen was so good early, recording a goal on the Pens first shot of the game, and also added 2 more SOGs while the team was on an ensuing PK, to give him 3 of the team's first 4 shots. The wily vet continues to impress.
- Tom Wilson sent off on a 5-minute major for boarding Nick Bonino. Yeah, I know hard to believe Wilson would do something like that. The Penguins were unable to score or even get any quality chances or shots on a frustrating power play, but the Caps carried no momentum from the kill and Sheary soon scored to make it 3-0. Always awesome to see the 4th line chip in a goal after the skill players fail.
- Very bad night overall for the Pens power play, going 0-for-4 with plenty of time and not plenty of even decent looking chances.
- The Pens PK at least went 4/4, which was a nice accomplishment considering the Caps come into the game, as seemingly always, with one of the league's best power plays.
- After arguably his weakest NHL start last game on Tuesday, Murray responded nicely early making a solid stop from point-blank range on Ovechkin in the first. The lead frittered away, but it would be tough to heap a lot of blame on Murray. The goals were on breakdowns
- Ian Cole took 2 minor penalties. Multiple trips to the sin bin always stick out this time of year, and Cole failed to tie up Johansson's stick on the first goal the Caps scored. Not a great game for Cole.
- Rare bad clear for Eric Fehr that led to the 2nd Johansson goal. Ben Lovejoy would see that mistake and raise it with one himself on the 3rd Caps goal.
- Big time players make big time plays in big time situations. Crosby's backhand winner denied Holtby a chance to tie the NHL all-time single season win record for one more night.
- Last but not least, the Pens win this game on Pascal Dupuis's birthday. Nice little win brought back for old Duper.
With the win tonight, the Penguins clinch the #2 spot in the division and home ice for the first round of the playoffs. That's good. One more game to go in the regular season before we get there. Oh, and it's in Philly for a game they might desperately need to make the playoffs. Buckle up.