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Capitals find many reasons for Game 1 loss to Penguins

Washington blames slow start, preventable goals, poor puck management

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- It was easy for Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz to pinpoint where things took a bad turn in a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Thursday.

"The first two minutes of the second (period), that's where it went wrong," Trotz said.


[Cotsonika: Penguins-Capitals Game 1 everything we expected | Complete Capitals vs. Penguins series coverage]


Penguins center Sidney Crosby scored twice in a matter of 54 seconds at the start of the period to give Pittsburgh at 2-0 lead at Verizon Center.

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored late in the second, and Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it 2-2 midway through the third period, but Penguins forward Nick Bonino scored the tiebreaking goal with less than eight minutes left.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm1: Trotz discusses the Caps' Game 1 loss

After a late push at Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury that came up short, the Capitals were heartened by the fact they feel they outplayed the Penguins and don't think they need to change very much in Game 2 of the best-of-7 series here on Saturday.

The Capitals outshot the Penguins 35-21 and had 83 shot attempts to the Penguins' 41.

"I don't think we're frustrated," Washington goalie Braden Holtby said. "I think we realize we played a really strong game. I know I need to be better if we're [going to] have success, and that's basically the bottom line. We played strong, if we continue to play that way, we're [going to] have success."

Holtby said Crosby's first goal and Bonino's game-winner were ones he should have stopped. Trotz blamed poor puck management and said he thought each goal the Penguins scored was preventable.

Matt Niskanen mentioned losing puck battles, especially along the wall.

"We didn't win enough pucks early in the game, so it took us a little while to get going, but once we started doing that we were really good," Niskanen said.

Having a better start has been a point of discussion for the Capitals during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which started with a six-game, first-round win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Washington had one shot on goal in the first 10 minutes Thursday, and their second didn't come for almost another five minutes.

When the Capitals are at their best, they dictate the pace of the game. There were glimpses of that in Game 1, but it came in spurts.

"We can't play like that against this team," Ovechkin said. "They are an experienced team. Lots of talent; they're skilled. Every mistake they're going to use it. When we play our way, it's a different game."

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm1: Ovechkin picks the corner with rocket

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