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Pens/Caps Recap: Pittsburgh digs deep and guts out 2-1 win

The Pens did it. Wasn’t pretty but it was a good team win

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


Welcome back, Patric Hornqvist.

And for the Capitals

First period

Less than a minute in Tom Wilson and Jamie Oleksiak get in a quick fight and it doesn’t go well for Oleksiak as he catches some rights to the head that drops him, leaves him shaky and sends him to the locker-room.

The bad feelings continue with Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby yelling at each other during the bench while the refs sort things out, then Ovechkin goes to the penalty box with Kris Letang for an after the whistle scrum a few minutes later, but neither team does much on the 4-on-4 that follows.

The Penguins get the first power play of the game but do nothing with it. A bit later a second power play for Pittsburgh, but again ominously they do very little with it.

Shots in the period end up 9-8 Pens but a pretty underwhelming one overall.

Second period

48 seconds into the period the Capitals get their first power play with Bryan Rust going to the box. Riley Sheahan does well to maintain control of the puck for a bit and keeps the Caps’ operation off balance for a bit and they never really get on track.

Almost as soon as the penalty ends, Pittsburgh goes right back to the box with Marcus Pettersson getting a stick in the vicinity of Lars Eller’s face and the old snap back gets the call, but the Caps again have a disjointed power play- fitting since Pittsburgh’s power plays to this point in the game were awful as well.

The Caps get on the board first, after Jake Guentzel again is unable at the offensive blue line to manage the puck, it goes the other way at an inopportune time while the defense is changing. Eller races to the net all alone and beats Matt Murray with a backhand-forehand move to open the scoring.

Pittsburgh gets it back quickly, Michal Kempny heads back to the penalty box after tripping Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin makes a beauty of a shot-pass that Sidney Crosby is able to deflect into the net. 1-1 game.

Pens back to the PK with Guentzel taking a hold but they do the job for the third straight time killing off the Washington power play.

Later at even Jakub Vrana rockets by Jack Johnson on the rush and rips a shot past Murray but not past his post.

And it’s the Pens who break the tie with 1:02 left in the period. Letang does well to hold the puck in at the blueline, Bryan Rust and Guentzel do work down low and the puck ends up going into the net for a goal that they give to Rust.

Brian Dumoulin takes a penalty at the 20:00 mark for holding the stick so the Pens will start the 3rd on the kill

Shots end up 13-10 Pittsburgh in the period, and are 21-18 Pens overall in the game. Shots into the net are 2-1 Pens.

Third period

For the fourth time in as many chances, the Washington PP is stymied by the Pens’ PK. Rust blocks an Ovechkin shot that caught him hard but it takes a team effort!

Malkin gets a free path to the net but is met by the glove of Braden Holtby.

A bit later, hatchet man Matt Niskanen goes to the box as Guentzel draws another power play. It’s a short power play as Phil Kessel gets happy with the stick and slashes after losing the puck.

Play cycles through back to Washington’s 5th power play, Evgeny Kuznetsov takes a shot that leaks through Murray but as it trickles to the net, the puck hits the post and Sheahan can clear out of danger.

The teams trade 2-on-1s with their franchise players on the charge; but first Crosby can’t make a pass and the play gets broken up, then Ovechkin can’t find the target and shoots wide. Go figure.

For the second time in the period, a shot gets past Murray and is trickling to the net but this time Marcus Pettersson makes a beauty of a diving leap back at it and clears it away juuuuust before it can roll into the empty net.

Caps keep throwing the kitchen sink, but the Pens hold strong and get out of town with a win. Washington’s 5 game win streak? YA DONE SON

Ovechkin’s 14 game career-high point streak? CANCELLED

2 points in the standings for the Pens.

Some Thoughts

  • If you counted the number of three-on-two rushes the Capitals had...Pretty much any time they came up the ice.
  • Due to the back-to-back penalties, guys like Malkin and Kessel and Hornqvist that don’t kill penalties don’t end up touching the ice in the second period until the 14:35 mark. That’s a long intermission.
  • Doesn’t it seem like every Pens/Caps game, the teams spin their wheels for a while but as soon as one scores, the other just has to answer it? Especially early on? Just something about the intensity and will to get the goal back.
  • Interesting to see Sullivan NOT bench Guentzel in the 2nd after his turnover led to a goal this time around. Guentzel drew a penalty on the next shift that the Pens’ first goal came from...And then he takes a penalty soon after.
  • Loved the game and energy from guys like Sheahan, Zach Aston-Reese, even Matt Cullen on the penalty kill. The Pens role players were buzzing in this game.
  • Total team concept in buying in too. 22 blocked shots, a lot of them noticeable, too.
  • Down to 5 defensemen for all but 1 minute of the game, it was naturally a lot of heavy lifting for the rest of the crew. Led of course by Letang’s absurd 32:22. I mean in a 60 minute game, shadowing Ovechkin, keeping him off the board, just more great work.
  • The Pens’ PK was a major factor in this game going a perfect 5/5 in what was 9:03 of total power play time for the Caps. Don’t want to play with that much fire, but the Pens will live to not get burned from it tonight.
  • As highlighted in the preview, the Caps were coming in scoring 4.5 goals per game in their last 10. Winners of their last 5. Big time win for Pittsburgh to hold them to 1 and get out of town with the win.
  • Murray made 31 saves, needed a little help from his buddies, but it’s a team game right? In what surely was a very big start for Murray, he kept the sheet nearly clean and by any measure had to have taken a real step forward in one of his best outings of the season.

Well, if you’re the Minnesota Wild you watched this game having already arrived in Pittsburgh and got to see the Pens go through a grueling game and still have a late night to get back into town. No rest for the weary with the Wild game tomorrow night in Pittsburgh.