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Game 5 Recap: Pens carry play but make costly mistakes and lose crucial game

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This one wasn’t pretty! 2nd blown lead in 3rd period in last three games.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals - Game Five Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Lineups

The Penguins stick with the same players for Game 5 and Game 4, with a couple small tweaks, most notably Bryan Rust bumping to the 3rd line left wing with Sheahan and Kessel.

1st period

The Penguins open the game by leaving Alex Ovechkin all alone from point blank range, not a great idea. His shot is met by Matt Murray though.

Play goes the other way and Phil Kessel hits Riley Sheahan with a perfect pass after Brooks Orpik’s weak clearing bid went to Kessel. Sheahan tries to outweight Braden Holtby and sees a bit of net but his backhand shot isn’t on target.

The Capitals get another scoring chance but Murray’s glove holds and the 4th line gets to work down low. They pass back to Jamie Oleksiak and holy cow Pittsburgh scores without Crosby on the ice! 1-0 just 2:23 into the game.

The Pens hard work continues and they draw a penalty with Matt Niskanen going to the box. They get a ton of zone times and looks at the net but no goal. Next shift after that Ovechkin’s line draws a penalty and sends the Pens to the penalty kill for the first time. The Caps get zone time and 1 shot on goal of their own but Pittsburgh PK does well to keep them to the perimeter.

The Pens 4th line continues to be a force generating a few great chances met by strong saves by Holtby. To follow that up the Crosby line comes on the ice....aaand Dominik Simon trips Niskanen 180 feet from the Pens net. Terrible slip by Simon and Washington makes the Pens play. John Carlson from near the blueline through traffic. 1-1.

Shift after that, Washington is at it again scoring their second goal in 33 seconds. Brett Connolly shoots and Patric Hornqvist partially blocks but deflects the puck down and through the 5-hole on Murray.

Pittsburgh shrugs it off, Brian Dumoulin keeps moving his feet and Ovechkin is called for a fairly weak slashing call with one second left in the period.

Shot attempts are 27-23 PIT, shots on goal are 13-13, feels like this one could have had 4 goals for either side easily. But Holtby was good at kept the Pens to 1. The Caps got some traffic in front and a deflection so they scored 2.

2nd period

The Pens start the 2nd on the power play but it is not a very good one. Very poor, in fact! They ice the puck and don’t really come close to scoring.

At even Pittsburgh keeps pushing, great shift for the second line and Ovechkin slashes Malkin’s stick in two so it’s back to the penalty box for the Caps captain. The Pens tie it, Kessel rips a great shot and Sidney Crosby tips it from in front. 2-2.

The Pens keep it up at even, great shift for the 2nd line again and 2 tremendous scoring chances for Carl Hagelin; onnce he punches the rebound of a Patric Hornqvist shot wide, then once setup by a Malkin pass he fires a slapper directly into Holtby. The Caps Devante Smith-Pelly with a dangerous leg whip on Dumoulin, so he goes to the box for the 4th Pens PP of the game.

And they get their 3rd goal. Holtby leaves the smallest of rebounds and that’s enough for Hornqvist to poke it in. 3-2.

Mid-way through the 2nd shots in the period are 12-3 Pittsburgh. Great effort to this point to respond from going down early.

Smith-Pelly has been demoted to the 3rd line but he trips Hagelin behind the net after another extended sequence in the Washington zone. The Pens ruin that though with Crosby taking a hooking call in the neutral zone. Penalties were 5-2 at that point for Pittsburgh so you knew they would be looking to even that up a bit.

4v4 cycles through and a brief Washington power play doesn’t score and the 3-2 Pens lead holds through 40.

A great, great period for the Pens. Shots 18-5 overall in the period. 5v5 Corsi in the period 19-11 Pens. 5v5 scoring chances 10-4. High danger chances 7-1. Goals in the period 2-0. Overall though, only a 3-2 edge due to Holtby still playing pretty well and a few chances trickling just wide.

3rd period

Less than one minute in the Pens defense (Dumoulin and Letang) go to the bench, or really Letang leaves the right side of the ice open for no reason, and they shouldn’t have. Washington advances quickly and Evgeny Kuznetsov is in all alone on a breakaway. Goes to the backhand and has 5-hole. 3-3, 52 seconds in and just like that the Pens great 2nd period disappeared.

13 faceoffs in the first 5 minutes of the period, very choppy going with a ton of stoppages as both teams tighten up and look to keep things

Time ticks on, less than 5 minutes to go, Dumoulin jumps in the play and gets a shot from right in front but a save is made, the Caps push the puck the other way Ovechkin barrels down the ice on Sheahan and tosses a shot that Murray kicks out. Letang can’t hold off Jakub Vrana’s stick and he taps it into the open net. 4-3 Caps with 4:38.

The Pens are desperate, Malkin makes a great pass over to Olli Maatta but he shoots just wide of the net.

And that’s the last chance they get. Oshie picks the pocket of Kessel with the goalie pulled and scores. 5-3.

Lars Eller tacks one more on for s’s and g’s. Doesn’t matter if you lose by 1 or 100.

Some Thoughts

  • Terrible penalty by Simon. Just can’t do that and turned momentum early and took the Pens a while to dig out from the damage done.
  • Nicklas Backstrom only took 3 faceoffs all game and missed time in the 3rd. If he’s hurting or out in the future it’s a big problem for the Caps.
  • After such a good 2nd period, the Pens were only up one, and that lead evaporated less than a minute into the period. Tough times to not find away to convert the chances into goals.
  • A lot of talk about the Kessel injury situation but a few nice plays tonight show he’s capable of being on the ice and doing what he needs to do. Any talk of him sitting out should be stamped out.
  • 2 terrible mistakes in the 3rd by Letang. Tough one to take, but nothing left to do but try to be better next time out.
  • Pens backs are to the wall, but Game 6 is on their home ice, where they were the best team in the league in the regular season. Win that and it’s all down to a Game 7. One at a time.

Discouraging result after the Pens carried the play for the most of the game, but a major takeaway is bad penalties (Simon), poor play (Letang), and not hitting the back of the net enough. The Maatta chance with under 2 minutes could have tied the game at 4. Dumoulin might have scored to go up 4-3, instead he doesn’t and there’s bad defense and it’s 3-4. Didn’t do it. Win as a team, lose as a team. Come Monday night the Pens need to button down and win as a team or their season will be over.