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Aftermath: Capitals 4, Penguins 3 SO

Wednesday, 03.24.2010 / 10:35 PM / Features
By Jason Seidling

LINKS
 
 
QUICK ANALYSIS
You have to give the Penguins credit. They easily could have sleepwalked through this game and felt sorry for themselves after learning both Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar were unable to play. Instead the Penguins received contributions up and down the lineup as they once again resembled the team which steamrolled through the final 25 games and the postseason in 2008-09.

The Penguins established their game right from the drop of the puck, taking the body at every conceivable opportunity and throwing shots Jose Theodore’s way as if he were target practice. Role players like Maxime Talbot and Craig Adams were puck hounds on the forecheck while defensemen such as Jay McKee and Brooks Orpik were clearing away any first chances Washington mustered at the other end.

In the end it might have been the Capitals who skated away with the extra point behind a Mike Knuble game-deciding goal in the shootout, but this was a night the Penguins can point to as evidence that dictating the play and forcing their opposition to deal with how they want to play the game can allow them to match up with any team in any venue on any night. Look for this game to give the Penguins the necessary momentum to really rack up the points on this upcoming six-game home stand.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
WASHINGTON (AP) – One trend is clear in this season's edition of the Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins rivalry: The Capitals are very good at getting the last word.

Mike Knuble scored the decisive goal in the fourth round of the shootout Wednesday night, giving the Capitals a 4-3 victory over their biggest nemesis.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Bill Guerin's second-period power-play goal gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead.
(photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
What Worked Well: Getting to Their Game
It’s always disappointing when you get anything less than two points at the end of the night, but that said, there was a lot the Penguins could be happy with against Washington. Except for a few stretches here and there, the Penguins carried the play. The Penguins kept the puck Washington’s end much of the night, outshooting the Capitals 42-32. Pittsburgh was very strong on the forecheck.

What Could Have Gone Better: Shorthanded Goal
The Penguins had everything going their way when Washington’s Alexander Semin picked off a pass in his own zone and scored a brilliant shorthanded goal just over five minutes into the third period. That goal revitalized the Capitals and allowed them to earn their eighth come-from-behind victory of the season.
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Did Alex Ovechkin dress tonight? The score sheet says he did. It even has him down for an assist and four shots on goal. That said, Ovechkin was a total nonfactor thanks to a great defensive performance by Brooks Orpik, who teamed with Kris Letang to go head-to-head with Ovechkin’s line. Orpik manned up on Ovechkin several times, and also made great defensive plays by laying the body on Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom as well. Orpik picked up his 20th assist of the season in the second period when Maxime Talbot deflected his shot from the left point behind Jose Theodore.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
Washington got on the board little over a minute into the second period as Nicklas Backstrom’s shot went off Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, bounced high in the air and landed in the blue paint behind him. Mike Knuble sneaked in and guided the puck over the goal line just before the Penguins could swat it away. Washington 1, Pittsburgh 0.

Pittsburgh avenged the Knuble tally 1:02 later as Maxime Talbot notched his first goal in 31 games. Craig Adams started the play by working the puck from the bottom of the near circle to Brooks Orpik at the left point. Orpik’s slap shot deflected off the stick of Talbot, who was positioned just to the left of Jose Theodore. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 1.

The Penguins picked up their only lead of the night during a Tomas Fleischmann penalty. Sidney Crosby walked down the slot and momentarily lost the puck. He recovered in time to send a backhand pass onto the blade of Bill Guerin, whose one-timer landed in the open cage. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 1.

Alexander Semin turned the momentum in Washington’s favor by picking off a Pittsburgh pass in his own zone during a Penguins power play. Semin proceeded to lug the biscuit the length of the ice, entering the Pittsburgh zone 1-on-3. He skated to the middle of the slot and beat Fleury upstairs over the glove hand for the shorthanded tally. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 2.

Washington took their second lead of the night 1:56 later. Eric Belanger skated behind the Pittsburgh net and fed Mike Green with a pass at the top of the far circle. Green’s one-timer was deflected by Eric Fehr in the slot. Washington 3, Pittsburgh 2.

Jordan Staal sent the game into overtime when he took a pass at the near faceoff dot from Chris Kunitz and quickly pulled the trigger on a snap shot which beat Theodore over the glove for Staal’s 21st goal of the season. Pittsburgh 3, Washington 3.

Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby scored in the shootout for the Penguins but Washington received goals from Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Mike Knuble to take home a 4-3 victory.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
Pittsburgh battled the Capitals without the services of both forward Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Malkin sat out for the fourth time in the past five contests as he continues to deal with a foot injury. Malkin was originally hurt against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 14. Gonchar missed his 17th game of the season due to illness. Jay McKee took Gonchar’s place in the lineup.

Wednesday’s game concluded a span which saw the Penguins play seven of their last eight contests away from Mellon Arena. The Penguins finished the difficult stretch 2-3-3. They now return home where they will send Mellon Arena out in style with a six-game home stand. That will begin on Saturday when the Penguins host the Philadelphia Flyers in a 1 p.m. matinee.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Scoring Summary:
WSH, M. Knuble (26), 1:09 2nd period: Capitals 1, Penguins 0
PIT, M. Talbot (2), 2:21 2nd period: Penguins 1, Capitals 1
PIT, B. Guerin PP (19), 14:39 2nd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 1
WSH, A. Semin SH (34), 5:36 3rd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 2
WSH, E. Fehr (21), 7:32 3rd period: Capitals 3, Penguins 2
PIT, J. Staal (21), 16:54 3rd period: Penguins 3, Capitals 3
SO, (M. Knuble): Capitals 4, Penguins 3

> Pittsburgh (42-25-7) was able to pick up one point in the standings to give them 91 on the season. That moves them one ahead of the New Jersey Devils into the Atlantic Division lead. The Devils have two games in hand against the Penguins.

> The Penguins allowed Washington’s top-rated power play just one opportunity, which Pittsburgh easily sniffed out to run their streak of consecutive penalty kills to 25. The Penguins penalty kill hasn’t surrendered a goal since March 11 at Carolina, a span of eight games.

> Bill Guerin became the third Penguin to hit double figures in power play goals when he picked up his 10th power-play tally in the second period. It was Guerin’s 19th goal of the season.

> Jordan Staal helped earn the Penguins a point with his 21st goal of the season in the third period. It was Staal’s second goal in the past three games and his fifth over his last 11 contests.

> Sidney Crosby assisted on Guerin’s goal to give himself 21 goals and 40 points over his last 30 games. Crosby also scored in the shootout to increase his numbers to 7-for-9 on the season.

> Kris Letang also tallied for the Penguins in the shootout. Letang is 4-for-9 on the season in the breakaway competition.

> Maxime Talbot’s goal in the second period was his second of the season and his first in 31 games.

> Craig Adams assisted on Talbot’s opening goal to move himself within one point of reaching 100 for his career. Adams has nine assists on the year.

> Chris Kunitz continued his recent hot stretch by earning the primary helper on Staal’s tying goal. That assist gave Kunitz points in two straight and eight points (3G-5A) over his last 11 games.

> Jordan Leopold picked up his second point as a Penguin when he was credited with the second assist on Staal’s tally.  

> Alexei Ponikarovsky quietly continues to rack up the points with the Penguins. He assisted on Guerin’s power-play goal to give him seven points (2G-5A) in 11 games with Pittsburgh.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. A. Semin
2. J. Theodore
3. J. Staal
"We know they have a very good team. They
miss (Sergei) Gonchar and
(Evgeni) Malkin, but they're still the
Stanley Cup champions."


- Alex Ovechkin
 

 

Author: Jason Seidling

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