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Penguins/Capitals Recap: Super Sunday win. Pittsburgh downs Washington 4-3

The Pens jump out early and hold on for a 4-3 win over the Washignton Capitals

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images


The Penguins stick with the same skaters as last game and get Matt Murray into the crease for this matinee game.

First period

As usual when the Pens and Capitals get together it doesn’t take long for things to pop off. Alex Ovechkin slashes at Jared McCann, pretty common enough play in the NHL but it is a slash and the refs call it just 35 seconds into the game to send Pittsburgh to an early power play.

It wasn’t a good power play though, an in fact the best scoring chance of the sequence was Ovechkin getting out of the box and having an errant Pens’ pass come to him to create a 3-on-2 for the Caps, but Matt Murray made a nice save on Garnet Hathaway.

Hathaway and Jack Johnson would both go the the box a little later in a post-whistle scrum, and sure enough after a weak call against the Caps, the refs even it up with a weak call against John Marino after Lars Eller gingerly goes to the ice after the slightest bit of contact.

The Pens’ PK does well against the Caps’ power play and the penalties cycle through. It’s Pittsburgh’s chance for a second power play when Eller takes a run at Patric Hornqvist well after the play and from behind. The PP gets a bit more effective zone time, yet fail to score.

Upon getting out of the box, Eller finds himself in the zone with plenty of time and space and rips a puck past Murray to open the scoring.

The Pens get the goal back quickly, Sam Lafferty finds a loose puck and quickly wheels around on the rush and seems to trick Ilya Samsonov with a rising shot to the short-side with his right hand shot coming down the left side of the ice and sniping a corner. 1-1 game.

A minute later, the Pens get their first lead of the game. More suspect goaltending from Samsonov, who literally uses his stick to steer the puck into the net after Hornqvist makes a tip in front of the net from Marino throwing a puck towards the cage. 2-1 Pens.

Dominik Simon takes a holding the stick penalty to send Washington to their second power play of the game, and this time they get more zone time but fail to do much with it and the Pens kill.

Shots in the first are 12-10 Pittsburgh.

Second period

Alex Galchenyuk can’t quite score but he gets a couple of good looks on net and draws a penalty, so hey, progress! The Pens’ don’t score for their third power play in this game. Murray makes a huge breakaway stop five-hole on Jakub Vrana to keep the lead shortly after 5v5 is established.

The Pens first line gets to work and puts their stamp on the game. Sidney Crosby shoots from a tight angle and Samsonov oh so generously leaves a huge rebound for Simon to find, who backhand stickhandles and somehow snaps a backhander that makes it through the five-hole. 3-1 Pens.

Crosby from the bench grabs T.J. Oshie’s stick and you can’t do that so that’s a penalty. The Pens kill it off. Soon after the Caps get caught with six skaters on the ice and that’s one too many so Pittsburgh gets (and fails) with another power play of their own.

Shots in the second are 16-9 Pens

Third period

As a proud team, at home, the Caps come out strong in the third. The Pens back off their forecheck a bit to “hold on” mode which seems a bit odd considering the success had but so it goes.

The Caps bring it to 3-2 when Evgeny Kuznetsov goes to the net — he’s no stranger to getting his nose dirty — and gets a fortunate bounce off a Pens’ defender and in past the goalie.

The Pens get two more power plays, but do nothing with it to to continue that trend.

Deep into the game the buzz saw line comes through once again and Brandon Tanev pops in his 11th goal of the year from in front to make it 4-2 and apparently provide easy insurance...

But that insurance would get cashed in, and in short order. On the ensuing faceoff Eller wins it, goes to the net and scores his second of the game just 15 seconds after the Tanev goal. 4-3 Pens.

Caps pull their goalie but the Pens hang on.

Some thoughts

Know your role..The Pens don’t ask a lot of their fourth line these days with all the injuries they’ve suffered, but they still got some positive contributions out of them in this one. Lafferty playing was a bit of a surprise, but a pleasant one and he scored a goal. Galchenyuk drew a penalty and had a scoring chance. You almost want to see Galchenyuk just flip a switch internally, mentally and just try to make something happen. Act like the best player on the ice. Why not.

200-foot Gene. Thought Evgeni Malkin was one of the most engaged players all over the ice. He was hunting pucks all afternoon, he was skating back including like this:

Add in six shot attempts, an assist and it was a tremendous performance.

Streak breakers. This was Ilya Samsonov’s first game against the Pens. He was 16-2-1 entering today, with 11 straight wins. Looking amazing. He was very average today. Below average, even. Maybe just a poor day game for him, but great job by Pittsburgh to put some cracks in the armor of what’s been a pretty lights out type of rookie to this point.

Super Letang but not on the power play. Kris Letang just played 29:28 of a 60 minute game. A lot of that was on the power play, and man, the Pens were lucky that for as bad as that group was, they found a way to put 4 ES goals in. And it wasn’t like the opposing goalie was good, though the Caps’ PK was stingy in front of him.

The Pens smack down the Flyers and Capitals in the span of a weekend, so that’s a good weekend! Pittsburgh gets a few days off and a trip to Florida in their future, so the going gets even better.