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Game 3 Recap: Pens blow 3rd period lead to fall behind 2-1 in the series

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Not ideal! Pens fall to the Caps on a late goal by Alex Ovechkin

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Three Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Lineups

Welcome back Evgeni Malkin, oh how we’ve missed you!

1st period

Game starts a little slow, the Capitals look like they’re weathering the storm a bit, first big moment happens with Jamie Oleksiak big rigging it up and stepping into Tom Wilson. Wonderful. Seems to fluster the Caps a bit and they take a tripping penalty.

The first power play gets some zone time but Patric Hornqvist trips Brooks Orpik while sweeping for a puck and gets called for it. Fairly weak for this time of year but a trip is a trip. Powerplays cycle through with no goals, but Pens get another one quickly when TJ Oshie pulls down Conor Sheary. More good zone time and looks at the net, but nice saves by Braden Holtby when the Pens do shoot.

Lars Eller gets a bad angle shot that somehow goes through and around Murray’s body and pops out but rolls harmlessly through the net and not into it. Weird one.

Kris Letang beefs up, turns the puck over to Ovechkin and breaks his stick at his blueline, the puck stays out but Letang dumps Wilson on the goalie for no real reason and takes an interference penalty for it.

The Caps don’t score and Justin Schultz gets behind the defense just after the power play and beats Holtby..but not the post. Seconds later Malkin gets his stick into Matt Niskanen’s feet and takes a tripping penalty.

Washington doesn’t score before intermission. Shots end up 9-7 Pens in a very disjointed, penalty-filled period.

2nd period

The Caps do score on the fresh ice on the carryover time on their power play. The Pens can’t find the puck to clear it, gets to John Carlson on the point who takes a slapper that Bryan Rust tips and Murray has little chance with that change of direction booming onto target. 1-0 Washington 48 seconds into the 2nd.

Pittsburgh gets it back less than three minutes later. Great shift by Schultz patrolling the back line, Sidney Crosby feeds him with a pass and the shot from the point gets tipped by Jake Guentzel past Holtby to make it 1-1.

The Pens get another power play when Orpik hooks Hornqvist. Malkin makes a beauty of a play past Carlson to get Hornqvist the puck and he chips it past Holtby to give the Pens the lead at 2-1.

Because too much actual hockey has been played, Tom Wilson does what Tom Wilson does- leaves his feet and delivers a hit to an opponents head. This time Zach Aston-Reese is the unfortunate one to draw the short straw and be bloodied and leave in a daze. Wilson, naturally, was not penalized on the play. The NHL has the chance to make it right but, oh who’s kidding who.

Momentum shifts, understandably enough, and Backstrom makes a nice pass out to Chandler Stephenson who one-times a puck by Murray. 2-2.

Ovechkin decides he wants to get in the dirt and stops playing hockey and starts cross-checking and attacking Crosby...Okayy. Penalty. Malkin shoots the puck through Holtby but it stops juuust short of the goal.

Kuhnhackl and some jabroni go to the box together and to 4-on-4 we go. Pierre McGuire mentions that Crosby and Kuznetsov are jawing at each other. Crosby wires one roof. Kuznetsov trying to trash talk Sid, now I’ve heard it all. 3-2 Pens. Oh yeah, how about Guentzel sending Orlov’s jock to the 200 level on this one?

Pens end up with too many men on a bad change and Caps get another carryover power play into the 3rd period.

Shots for the period end up 10-5 Pens. Overall in the game they’re 19-12 Pens, who have controlled the most of the HOCKEY part, if only they can get past the big dumb idiot that’s attempting to injure everyone on the team part.

3rd period

Caps get another period start with a power play but can’t score this time on the fresh ice.

Malkin gets in on a 2-on-1 and hits the far post about as solidly as a human being can do so. So close, yet so far. Score remains 3-2.

Not for long, Caps tie it up moving the puck left-to-right on Murray, Niskanen with a long range shot that Murray softly allows. 3-3.

The Caps get a winner late, ironically after a lot of Pens pressure Maatta flips the puck in poorly and then gets tripped by Wilson.

Puck goes the other way on a 2-on-1 with Maatta now out of the play, with the 2 WORST Caps to have in the situation. Backstrom with puck on stick Ovechkin on the right side. Gee, wonder if a pass is coming. It does. Ovechkin hits post but sticks with it and bats the puck impressively out of the air and in the net. 4-3.

Whomp, whomp. Caps up 2 games to 1.

Some thoughts

  • All this Tom Wilson horseshit has gotten out of control. The NHL is doing nothing stop him from hitting people in the head and hurting them, so he continues to hit people in the head and hurt them. 5-10 years from now we’re going to look back on this series and shit like this and fail to believe it even could have been possible. Hopefully anyways, this has to change.
  • Sullivan announced after the game Aston-Resse will need surgery for a broken jaw and also has a concussion. Now brace yourself for the “but it glanced off his shoulder first” excuses.
  • Wilson was challenged by Oleskiak to own up to it, he just laughed. His right these days, unfortunately with instigators and refs protecting you can hide like that. So the answer isn’t guys like Oleksiak or Tom Sestito or Ryan Reaves to stop it, anyone who understands the game has known that all along...It’s the league stopping dangerous, reckless players. Eventually they finally do but how Wilson has eluded them for his head shots on 3 players in 9 playoff games is ponderous.
  • As for the game itself, solid job by the Pens for the first 40 minutes. They’re the better team and controlled the possession game. The boost of having Malkin back was a big help with the trickle down of talent on the lower lines while that lasted.
  • After the Aston-Reese injury, Dominik Simon was basically benched and Kuhnhackl was seldom-used so the team bascially used rolled 3 lines.
  • Murray looks like he’s fighting the puck and battling right now. He doesn’t look calm and comfortable as when he’s truly on top of his game (like in the Philly series minus the bad game or two). I don’t know what the answer is, not a goalie whisper but Murray looks a little puck-shy since he knows guys like Ovechkin and Carlson and Oshie are going to get their looks and they all bring great shots.
  • That said, you can blame Murray all day for the game-tying goal, but what of Malkin hitting the post up 3-2? Or Sheahan unable to tap in a Rust pass from in front? Or all the bad pinches by just about all the defensemen? Win as a team, lose as a team and just about everyone carries some blame or had a chance to be a little better.
  • Guentzel is such a good hockey player. He’s at the top of his game right now and his 17 points are almost as much as the 21 he put up in all FOUR rounds last year. Unreal stuff from this kid right now, he’s bringing it and it’s such a sight to behold him all the way around the ice and the way he is clicking with Crosby at even is a connection we haven’t really seen since....maybe the Hossa playoff run in ‘08? And even then Guentzel is blowing Hossa’s production away.
  • Other than an empty net goal, it’s now just 2 goals for the Pens in the past 5 games that weren’t scored by Guentzel-Crosby-Hornqvist (and Letang with that trio on the ice). The Pens haven’t scored a goal all series that Crosby hasn’t been on the ice for, and only 1 that Guentzel and Hornqvist haven’t. Luckily they are scoring a LOT but it’s getting ridiculous.
  • Has Phil Kessel looked any worse in his Pens career? It isn’t to bury him and people go immediately for an injury question, but that’s no excuse this time of year and Phil has performed with a bum wrist before in the playoffs. He just looks...off. At times just turning the puck over and not stick-handling well, I don’t know if he is hurt or not but he just doesn’t look right in many regards.
  • The rare 2nd consecutive playoff loss for Mike Sullivan, who now falls to 16-4 following a playoff defeat. Will be interesting to see what his next play is, if anything. The team isn’t out of this, but is making some poor decisions, breaking down too frequently, has a normal steady goalie who isn’t playing steady and only has 1 line playing well, despite having quality personnel. It’s going to be a challenge to figure out how to press the right buttons and salvage another split at home and avoid a 1-3 series hole.

Frustrating loss, losing a 3rd period lead at home. Frankly a game the Pens let slip away. The Caps never quit and earned the win, but the series is early yet at 2-1. Pens need to flip the page and move on. More effort like the first 40 minutes of this game and they should be alright. But they need fewer odd man rushes against and that extra save or two as well moving forward.