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3 Impressions: Caps 3, Pens 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box of the Pens’ 3-1 loss against the Washington Capitals in Game 5.

1. Handling the Early Pressure
The Pens knew that the Caps were going to start the game strong with their lives on the line. Pittsburgh needed to weather the early storm. The Caps indeed came out flying, dominating in possession and zone time and took an early 1-0 lead with a power-play goal. The Pens were under heavy pressure in the opening five minutes. But everything changed when Nicklas Backstrom took a momentum-killing offensive zone interference penalty on Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang. The Pens carried the play for the remaining 15 minutes of the first period, outshooting the Caps by a 10-1 margin, and evening the score with their own man-advantage tally.

2. Holtbeast
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is the presumptive Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s best goaltender who tied a league record with 48 wins this season. So it was only a matter of time before he stole a game for his team. That game was Game 5. The Pens outshot the Caps, 31-19, and outplayed them for long stretches, but Holtby was brilliant. He turned aside 30 of 31 shots. He was particularly impressive on a three-save sequence against Evgeni Malkin and a pair of split stops on Patric Hornqvist and Justin Schultz. The Pens played a very strong game. The only problem was that Holtby was better.

3. Power Display
The Pens’ PK has been so strong all series long against the Capitals’ lethal power play, but the Caps were able to connect twice on the man-advantage and it proved to be the difference in the game. Alex Ovechkin created each goal. First he scored off of a rocket shot from the slot into the top corner to give the Caps a 1-0 lead four minutes into the game. Washington retook the lead, 2-1, in the second period when T.J. Oshie deposited a rebound off of an Ovechkin shot. The Pens PK rebounded by killing off the final two Caps’ power plays to keep the game within reach. But the damage had been done.

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