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Breaking Down the Big Mistake

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The Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals in Game 3 last night by a score of 3-2. Let's take a look at one of the mistakes that led to the Penguins scoring a goal.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

In a playoff series, everything gets magnified. Every hit, every goal, every power play, everything. Last night, with the Penguins leading 2-0, the Capitals made a very brief yet very costly mistake. It ended up being the game-winning-goal for Pittsburgh. Let's take a look.

With the Penguins attempting to establish their forecheck and get a cycle going in the offensive zone, Nick Bonino kept John Carlson from playing the puck clean.

Carlson moved the puck to Nate Schmidt, his new pairing partner, while Brooks Orpik is serving his suspension.

What happened next with Nate Schmidt changed everything. With the puck on his backhand, he attempted to make an ill-advised saucer pass to Nicklas Backstrom, who was streaking towards the blue line. It was instead easily intercepted by Phil Kessel, who froze Braden Holtby and fed Nick Bonino, who set Carl Hagelin up for the tap-in.

The pass itself was a dreadful idea to even attempt. One of two things he could've done instead would've been to eat the puck into the corner and wait for reinforcements from Justin Williams, or dump it along the boards to Williams.

John Carlson's quick clearing of the zone to head up ice as soon as Schmidt got the puck didn't help him, as he had no support behind him. If Carlson hadn't left the zone so quickly, Schmidt could've made a back pass to the other corner where Pittsburgh had no forecheckers.

It's possible that Schmidt was trying to get the puck to Evgeny Kuznetsov with the lower-risk pass and it just got up on him off of his backhand and was headed towards Backstrom, but it's hard to tell, and ultimately it doesn't matter.

The play can be seen in its entirety below:

Time will tell how much this one mistake can affect an entire series, but it certainly had its impact on last nights game.