Playing with playoff pace, the Penguins and Capitals did not disappoint during their showdown on Wednesday night where the Pens were able to squeak out a 2-1 victory over their biggest rivals on the road. Goals from Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust were just enough to propel the Penguins to a win as Matt Murray slammed the door shut in the third period to preserve the two points. The Pens were forced to play most to the contest with only five defenseman after Jamie Oleksiak went down following an early fight with Tom Wilson. [Pensburgh]
The Penguins will now return home with the chance to complete their second back-to-back sweep in five days when they host the Minnesota Wild tonight at PPG Paints Arena.
No time to rest, prepare for tonight’s game with Pens Points...
Matt Murray is healthy and back on the ice for the Penguins but he won’t just be taking back the No. 1 role in goal. With Casey DeSmith playing well, Murray’s performance against the Capitals could go a long way into determining just how often we see the two time Stanley Cup winner in goal going forward. [Pensburgh]
After spending the weekend in Pittsburgh and watching his old team take on the Kings Saturday evening, Pascal Dupuis had some interesting comments about the relationship between head coach Mike Sullivan and superstars Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. Obviously perturbed by Dupuis’ comments, Sullivan shot back at the former fan favorite during his media availability on Wednesday. [Pensburgh]
Not only did Sullivan call out Dupuis for his comments to French media, he defended his relationship with both Malkin and Kessel. According to Sullivan, any disagreements between him and any players on the team is just a side effect of coaching that eventually passes on. [Trib Live]
Once word got out about Dupuis’ comments and Sullivan had the opportunity to respond, Dupuis was quick to clarify what he meant. His main point from what he witnessed over the weekend is there has been an issue in communication between coach and the players in question. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Last night’s showdown with the Capitals was the third meeting of the season between the two Metro division power houses but it was the first time this season both sides met with Tom Wilson in the lineup. Though the Penguins have their issues with Wilson, they had no plan to seek out revenge for any past transgressions once the puck was dropped. [Trib Live]
Wilson himself also will not be looking for any trouble against the Penguins and is not anticipating any blowback for his actions from last season. [Washington Post]
Together, the Penguins and Capitals account for the last three Stanley Cups and have faced one another in the second round each of the last three playoffs. Even though both have reached the ultimate prize and cemented their legacies, there is still a little more to play for when they face-off. [Yahoo! Sports]
As the Penguins have struggled to this point in the season one person has remained steadfast in their confidence to turn the season around. That person is head coach Mike Sullivan who is doing everything in his power to right the ship before it sails too far off course. Credit should also go to the Penguins management who are standing by Sullivan rather than moving on. [Ottawa Citizen]
News and notes from around the NHL...
For some reason, the NHL seems to do everything in its power to cater the game towards the less skilled guys on the ice than the high skilled guys like Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. Clutch and grab hockey still exists and at times is largely ignored by officials, especially when used on skill players. It is long past time for the league and its officials to put the emphasis on protecting its star players. [Yahoo! Sports]
Patrik Berglund joined the Buffalo Sabres over the summer when he was traded as part of the Ryan O’Reilly package on July 1st. Berglund only played 23 games for the Sabres before being suspended and placed on unconditional waivers for failing to report to team practices. Berglund will have his contract terminated and become an unrestricted free agent. [USA Today]