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Recap: Victory with a Capital V. Pens down Washington 3-2

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The Penguins get 3 powerplay goals and a strong penalty kill to ride for a 3-2 win in DC.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

Lineup changes for the first time of the season in Game #4. The positive news is that Patric Hornqvist is ready to make his 2017-18 season debut after missing the first week of the season following an off-season hand surgery, bumping Scott Wilson to healthy scratch territory. The negative news is that Ian Cole is the first time missed to injury after taking a puck to the face, opening the door for Chad Ruhwedel to get in the lineup for his first game of the season.

A couple friends of Pensburgh pull no punches with this one.

1st period

Game starts out fairly quietly, before “Hatchet boy” Matt Niskanen takes a slashing penalty (shocker) and the Pens make the Capitals pay with the second power play unit. Nice play by Conor Sheary to get the puck to the net, Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist crash down on it, puck pops to Kris Letang who’s all the way down at the end to chip in a backhand past Braden Holtby to make it 1-0 Pittsburgh.

Later, Holtby charges out and slides almost to the blueline to stop Carl Hagelin from a breakaway chance and the refs call him for I guess holding onto the puck even though it didn’t look like he really kept it for long.

Barry Trotz bitches about it and unsurprisingly after a 2-0 call advantage for Pittsburgh, guess who gets called for a ticky-tack penalty the very shift after the PP expires? Luckily the Pens PK holds strong the first time called upon.

Shots 9-7 after 1 in favor of the Pens, aided by a 3-1 edge in calls.

2nd period

The refs continue to put their stamp on this game with Hornqvist going to the box for a weak slash call. The players have absolutely no idea who is getting called on these ticky-tack things, evidenced by the Caps player Tyler Graovac thinking he was guilty and skating towards the box before being informed he was off the hook and Hornqvist was on it.

Refs keep at it, call Washington for a weak call and the Pens say what the hey and make the most of it. Sidney Crosby throws the puck to the net with Tom Kuhnhackl (whoa, on the power play?!) in front. In the scramble Holtby falls and the puck’s on a platter for Patric to slide it in. 2-0 Pens.

The Pens generate a great even strength chance, Brian Dumoulin with an excellent pass up to Hornqvist. HQ feeds Greg McKegg in front and he dishes it to Conor Sheary. It looks like the pass is about a foot too forward as and Sheary bends to get enough on the shot, it glances off the crossbar and no goal.

The Capitals however get on the board with a last minute goal...First minute goals and last minute goals still give heartburn. Christian Djoos in his first NHL game hammers a slapshot short-side by Matt Murray that he’d probably like to have back.

2-1 after 2 periods. Penalty calls are 6-2 Penguins so oh boy, we all know what that means.

3rd period

The Penguins convert on the power play, interesting wrinkly to start with 3 forwards and 2 defenseman and it pays off with Schultz finding Conor Sheary for a 3-1 lead.

As typical the even up calls start so the Caps get a power play but the Pens kill works again....Then the Caps get another call for a 4th power play but the Pens hold yet again.

At even though, Alex Ovechkin scores from in front to make it 3-2.

The Caps put on a push, but it might as well be May because they fall short and take the L. Pittsburgh skates away with a 3-2 win.

Some Thoughts

  • Nice to see Hornqvist slide back into the lineup smoothly, crashing the net on the power play on his second shift and helping generate a goal. Just as greasy as ever.
  • Believe Hornqvist also drew 2 penalties. Took one himself, though. As usual, just right in the middle of everything with the goal and the assist too.
  • Carter Rowney was taking faceoffs in the d-zone on the right (strong for him) side of the ice in the 1st period with the 3rd line wingers (aka Greg McKegg’s normal line). Just a little consideration by the coaches to try and be attentive to details.
  • Matt Hunwick made a great defensive play in the first period, after a slow cross-ice pass from Justin Schultz got picked off by a speedy Andre Burakovsky, Hunwick displayed some nice wheels to pivot and stay in front of the Cap then got stick-on-puck for the shot attempt to send what could have been a scoring chance on the rush instead harmlessly into the netting above the rink.
  • 2 third period penalties for McKegg, let’s see if that hurts him at all moving forward. As of now, no real other options at center.
  • Special teams were the difference in this game - Pittsburgh’s PK held strong going 4/4 and the power play got 3 goals.