For additional insight into the Eastern Conference Second Round series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Craig Berube to break down the action. Berube will be checking in throughout the series.
Berube, 50, was the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2013-15. He was a Flyers assistant for six seasons prior to being promoted to coach on Oct. 7, 2013. The Flyers were 75-58-28 under Berube. They made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and lost to the Rangers in the first round in 2014.
ARLINGTON, Va. -- More of the same except for maybe fewer mistakes and the possibility of a different result in Game 2 on Saturday.
That's the expectation former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube has after watching the Washington Capitals defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series Thursday.
Berube didn't see many glaring differences between the teams. What he instead saw were mistakes that led to goals, signs of the opportunism he expected to see from the Penguins and Capitals in their highly anticipated series, but also signs of errors that the teams have to eradicate from their game going forward.
Video: PIT@WSH, Gm1: Oshie wraps OT winner for hat trick
"I thought it was pretty evenly matched, to be honest with you," Berube said. "[Penguins goalie Matt] Murray let in a couple weak ones, I guess, but he's a young kid and it happens. I thought the middle of the game the Penguins were the better team. I thought they did a real good job moving the puck quick. One thing the Capitals did well was they defended around their net. They didn't give up a whole lot of second and third opportunities. I'm not sure I see a whole lot of adjustments to be made. It's just about minimizing the mistakes."
The Penguins made one too many, which is why they trail 1-0 in the best-of-7 series. Defenseman Olli Maatta was the culprit on a goal Berube said never should have happened. His giveaway at the Capitals blue line led directly to the first of T.J. Oshie's three goals.
"That's just kind of a whiff, kind of a freebie," Berube said.
That it came after the Capitals let Evgeni Malkin skate in untouched to beat goalie Braden Holtby with a short-side backhand hurt only more. Malkin's goal was the second in a span of 57 seconds for the Penguins and it gave them a 2-1 lead at 11:37 of the second period.
Video: PIT@WSH, Gm 1: Malkin goes top-shelf with backhand
"You let Malkin walk in like that, he's going to put it in the net," Berube said.
Oshie tied it off of Maatta's turnover 33 seconds later.
"That can't happen," Berube said.
Neither can the odd-man rush goal that Andre Burakovsky scored at 10:13 of the first period to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead. Nor can Ben Lovejoy's tying goal at 10:40 of the second period, when Pittsburgh capitalized because Washington defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt collided in the defensive zone.
"That's just a bad mistake by the D there," Berube said. "I'm not sure what they're doing by colliding into each other. There's no reason for it. You had everybody back in coverage. Just play it properly and it's no goal."
Mistakes aside, Berube was enticed by the power-on-power matchup between the top lines centered by the Penguins' Sidney Crosby and the Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom.
"I'm not sure I expected that, but I could see it on the Caps' end of it, playing Backstrom against Crosby," Berube said. "The other way around, I wasn't sure if Pittsburgh would try to get away from that matchup. You've got a young kid on that line, [Conor] Sheary, and he's not very big playing against [Alex] Ovechkin, [T.J.] Oshie and Backstrom, who are big guys."
Video: Sidney Crosby meets the media after practice
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan didn't mind the matchup even though his line was outscored 3-0, with all goals coming from Oshie. He did admit there's a possibility he'll move Crosby around in Game 2 just to free him up from that and give the Capitals different looks. Berube wonders if that means we'll see Crosby with Malkin on some shifts.
"That's been known to be a go-to thing to do every so often," Berube said. "But definitely your best players have to battle through the fight."
Most importantly, they have to limit the mistakes. The Penguins made one too many.
"You score three goals on [Capitals goalie Braden] Holtby, you'd think you'd win the game," Berube said.
Maybe it will be enough Saturday.