Despite a battered and bruised lineup against the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh came out flying, playing a hard-hitting, physical game. The exciting tempo of the game created numerous chances for Pittsburgh, but the Penguins couldn’t quite convert, ultimately falling to the Capitals 1-0. The Penguins went to the net hard and found themselves nearly burying the puck many times, but great goaltending by Michal Neuvirth, bouncing pucks and a little bad luck from the posts kept the Penguins off the board. The Penguins outshot the Capitals 39-24.
Marc-Andre Fleury joined in on the excitement midway through the first frame when Alexander Ovechkin had a chance on a breakaway. The Penguins netminder made a great, sprawling blocker save on the play.
Most of the game continued at that pace, with the Penguins creating one exciting scoring chance after another, and Fleury making a few more great saves in between. The stalemate finally broke near the end of the second period though, when Ovechkin finally broke through on the power play. That was all the scoring the Capitals would need to get the win.
STAR OF THE GAME
Just one day after getting hit in the face with a puck in Chicago, Jordan Staal had a hand in many of the numerous scoring chances the Penguins created.
He was Mr. Everything for the Penguins Monday night, as he manned the top line between Brett Sterling and Pascal Dupuis. He logged a total of 25:16 in ice time, marking the fourth time in the past six games that he registered more than 24 minutes on the ice. He spent 3:08 on the power play and killed off 3:09 in penalties.
In the absence of faceoff specialist Sidney Crosby, Staal stepped up and won his first five faceoffs of the game. He also recorded five shots and threw two hits.
Unsurprisingly, it was on the penalty kill that Staal was at his best. In the first few minutes of the game, he almost converted on a shorthanded chance that Maxime Talbot set up by stealing a D-to-D pass from the Capitals. Then, in the second period, right after Matt Cooke almost scored shorthanded, Staal took a pass from Cooke and managed to get around the Capitals defenseman for a shorthanded breakaway, but Michal Neuvirth made a great save.
That missed shorthanded opportunity by Jordan Staal in the second period marked the point where the momentum shifted into the Capitals’ favor. Prior to that, it was all Penguins, with Alexander Ovechkin getting a chance here and there.
But after Michal Neuvirth stopped Staal on the shorthanded breakaway, the Capitals finally lit the lamp thanks to an Ovechkin blast from the right point into the net behind a screened Marc-Andre Fleury.
Alex Ovechkin scored the only goal and Michal Neuvirth was perfect for the second straight time against the Penguins, leading the Washington Capitals to a 1-0 win at Pittsburgh on Monday night.
Neuvirth made 39 saves, including 18 in the first period, for his third shutout of the season, and second against the Penguins after a 3-0 victory on Feb. 6. Ovechkin secured the Capitals third win in four games by blasting a 35-footer over Marc-Andre Fleury's right shoulder late in the second period.
- IIn addition to his five shots, Michalek had a dominant defensive effort, blocking four shots and throwing one hit.
- Defenseman Brian Strait made his NHL debut after being recalled from the Penguins’ top minor-league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton just a few hours before the puck drop. He replaced Paul Martin in the lineup, who missed the game with an undisclosed injury. He blocked one shot through 13:02 of ice time.
- Despite the setback, the Penguins still have an impressive 11-4 record against Southeast Division opponents this season. They will have an opportunity to boost that record on Friday in Raleigh when the face Carolina.
- The Penguins are now 6-2-1 in their last nine games at CONSOL Energy Center. In that span, they have surrendered just 11 goals for a 1.22 GAA.
- Alexander Ovechkin scored on the Penguins for the first time all season. Throughout the first three games, he registered 14 shots but was kept from the back of the net. On his seventh shot of Monday’s game, he finally scored on a power-play opportunity.