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Penguins/Capitals Recap: It’s time to switch to winnin’, we’ve been losin games all month. Pens down Caps

Pittsburgh snaps a seven game winning streak by kicking one of their biggest rival’s asses in a 4-1 win on the road.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Photo by John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images


Lots of changes for the Pens, the defense is shuffled with Brian Dumoulin de-emphasized. Kasperi Kapanen shuffles out as the healthy scratch, Jeff Carter is back from injury and Filip Hallander makes his season debut in the NHL. Oh and, interestingly enough, it’s Casey DeSmith starting after a long layoff in net.

First period

The Penguins get a sloppy start and give up the first six shots of the game after some questionable turnovers and poor puck management. DeSmith is strong and Pittsburgh eventually gets their legs under them and rebounds with a much better second half of the period.

No goals, but Sidney Crosby draws a penalty late. Shots in the first are 10-7 Pens. Not too many opening periods have gone scoreless, and on the road while losing a lot lately, it’s not the worst possible start.

Second period

Crosby takes a penalty of his own at the end of the ensuing Penguin power play, but Pittsburgh kills off the Capitals’ power play.

Jason Zucker gets the Pens on the board, throwing a puck from near the goal-line at the net that Darcy Kuemper turns into a goal against when the puck gets caught under him and he somehow maneuvers into his own net.

Pittsburgh gets a second power play but nothing comes of it. Then after, Alex Ovechkin lines up and drills Jan Rutta. Rutta gets up and retaliates with a cross-check that sends him to the penalty box.

But on the power play, it’s the Pens who score. Jeff Carter keeps the puck in the zone and Brock McGinn takes a pretty ordinary five-hole shot on Kuemper. It sneaks through and trickles into the net before Kuemper can close it off and it’s a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.

Crosby pulls up in the zone and feed Jeff Petry. Petry blasts away from distance, and the shot eludes Kuemper who has to deal with Bryan Rust’s traffic in front and Pittsburgh is suddenly out to a surprising 3-0 advantage with 4:55 left in the period.

Shots after two end up 20-17 overall in favor of the Pens.

Third period

The Pens have three defenders injured in game (more in the notes below) necessitating Jeff Carter to cameo as a defenseman and, oh boy.

With 7:38 left, the Caps get on the board by holding a puck in the zone. Sonny Milano centers from behind the net for Marcus Johansson to snap quickly by DeSmith and make it a 3-1 game.

It starts getting chippy after that. Bryan Rust and Trevor van Riemsdyk get tied up and kinda, sorta drop some gloves and “fight”.

Then Conor Sheary sticks and elbow out on a driveby on a Penguin.

Do not adjust your monitor or Ad Blocker - that is Conor Sheary sticks and elbow out on a driveby on a Penguin. Little Conor Sheary. Da fuq? Only a two minute penalty somehow, because #Captials.

Pens don’t score on that, but eventually Washington pulls the goalie and Jake Guentzel removes all doubt with a 4-1 empty netter.

Some thoughts

  • Sidney Crosby vs. Martin Fehervary might be the most under-the-radar bad blood in the game right now. The two got tangled up last year, and again tonight Crosby took offense with the nothin’ happenin’ Caps defender trying to go high on him and responded with some cross-checks.
  • Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Jan Rutta both left with injuries in the second period, and then Petry left in the third. It’s like the Pens just can’t let the Caps be the most injured team for once, and have to match that by going two down on defense for a big chunk of the game. And then three for a bit.
  • The silver linings to those clouds though might have been the team needed to roll with Dumoulin more. And just one game, but he held up in a situation where they were counting on him.
  • You could just feel in the third the Caps couldn’t really compete, so everyone started taking runs. Ovechkin drilled Rutta in the head. Then slammed Pettersson with a big, clean physical hit. Sheary getting after it. Unreal!
  • Sidney Crosby said on TNT after the game that “coaches were asking if anyone (forwards) had ever played ‘d’ before, that’s never a good sign”. And indeed not. TNT analyst and former Pens assistant coach Rick Tocchet had a good laugh that Todd Reirden (in charge of the defenders) appeared to be talking to Malkin about playing a shift on defense, but “no way Sully’s putting him back there -I’ve seen that program!”
  • Carter, defensive shift aside (which was fine) was really good in this game. He takes some fan slack - some deserved, some maybe overkill- but his presence (and play on the SHG) was good. It was a very welcome return to the lineup that needs a strong center.
  • Speaking of: Pens PK 1 goal, Caps PP 0 goals. Who would have thought?
  • The..interesting decision to go with DeSmith paid off. He was very good, perhaps his best game of the season. Sullivan has the tendency to push the right buttons, it looked great tonight.

The Pens didn’t come out of this one unscathed with the defensive injuries, but they got the most crucial and important thing out of the night — two points on the road, at a division rival’s expense. For one night at least, Pittsburgh is back on track and able to carry some positive momentum moving forward as they put a long losing streak to rest.