Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins’ 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 3 at CONSOL Energy Center.
1. ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Not to be overly negative after a win, but this was nowhere near a strong performance. When I asked Patric Hornqvist the areas they needed to clean up for Game 4, he responded with, “Everything.” Although the Pens were able to build a 3-0 lead after two periods, that doesn’t reflect how lopsided the play was. The Caps were by far the better team, outshooting the Pens 49-23. The Pens hardly had the puck, and when they did possess it, they often mismanaged it – particularly through the neutral zone. They got trapped in their end for stretches, especially in the third period as the Caps pressed to tie the game. It felt like the script had flipped from Game 2, where the Pens held the Caps to just 10 shots through the first two periods and completely outplayed them. They have to be much, MUCH better in all aspects for Game 4.
2. BRICK WALL
The result certainly could have been different if it wasn’t for the play of Matt Murray, who absolutely stood on his head and produced an unreal performance. The rookie netminder was sharp right from the start, as he had to make three incredible glove saves in the first few minutes of play. That piece of equipment got a lot of work throughout the night collecting pucks left and right (or I guess just left). All evening, Murray was always in position and stopped virtually everything that came his way, making the difficult saves look easy. The only puck that got past him was an absolute snipe from the league’s best goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin. He stopped 47 shots and overall, it was just a phenomenal effort from the 21-year-old, who was incredibly calm and collected despite all of the traffic at his net.
It may not have been pretty, but got to give credit where credit is due. At the end of the night, the Pens got a win and it was because they took advantage of the opportunities they did get. The hockey gods were definitely smiling down on them – their goals were the results of bounces – but they did work for those bounces. They created their own luck, so to speak, and were able to put three pucks by Vezina Trophy finalist Braden Holtby.