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When all said and done, Caps still lead series

Thursday, 05.07.2009 / 5:23 PM / Conference Semifinals: Washington vs. Pittsburgh

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Bruce Boudreau doesn't mind the view from his side of the ice.

"We're up 2-1," Washington's coach said Thursday afternoon. "They outplayed us (Wednesday) for sure, but I'd much rather be where I am right now than where they are."

True enough, but if the Capitals play in Game 4 the way they did in Game 3, the view might look a whole lot different on the plane ride back home Friday night (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

Too many penalties and way too many turnovers led to Pittsburgh's 3-2 overtime victory at Mellon Arena Wednesday night, a win that brought the Penguins within one of tying this series before it heads back to the District of Columbia Saturday night.

"They played a perfect game against us in the second and third period and made it very difficult for us to create any offense," Caps' defenseman Mike Green said. "Fortunately we're still up one game. They definitely do have the momentum right now."

What burns the Capitals most about Game 3 is they got a taste of their own medicine, and it went down like bitter cough syrup.
Washington's reputation is for being a team that gets pucks deep and controls the play in the attacking zone. The Penguins, hardly slouches when it comes to playing the simple game of puck possession, turned the Caps into the team that constantly has to chase. For proof, just see the shot discrepancy: Pittsburgh 42, Washington 23.

"We made some stupid plays and weren't playing our game," Green said. "We were trying to do too much there in the second and third period and they have a lot of speed and a good transition team where they just kept throwing it back and making us tired."

By trying to do too much, Green meant that instead of just firing the puck in the zone and playing the dump and chase game, which the Caps do so well thanks to all of their speed and skill, they were instead passing it east and west as they got to the red line.

That plays right into the Penguins hands because they are excellent at turning pucks over and pushing a team back with their transition game.

"Whether it was on our blue line or their blue line the puck just kept coming back to us and we couldn't get it out," Green said. "We have been successful when we get pucks deep behind their defenseman and go to work."

The Capitals were taking the blame, but as David Steckel pointed out, Pittsburgh deserves some of the credit for taking the Caps game and shoving it right back in their faces.

"They really took it to us in the second and it showed in the third and overtime when our D didn't want to go back and get the puck," Steckel said. "They were hungry, in their barn and it was a must win game for them. They really took it to us."

Washington Capitals Playoff GearThere were some positives, Green said.

For instance, Pittsburgh scored only one time from within a 15-foot radius of goalie Simeon Varlamov and that was Ruslan Fedotenko's tally off a 2-on-1 rush. Evgeni Malkin scored from the top of the circles and Kris Letang's came from the blue line.

Sidney Crosby scored all four of his goals in the first two games from in tight.

"We spent a majority of time in our own zone and they got chances, but not quality chances," Green said. "If they did, we did a good job of cleaning it out, but the neutral zone is what killed us.

"We're aware now of what not to do," he added. "We won the first two games for a reason; we played a simple game and when you play like that you're going to win."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season