It’s always an exciting battle between the Penguins and the Capitals, who faced off on Super Bowl Sunday for the second-consecutive year (and for the two teams’ first meeting since the Winter Classic). Sunday’s afternoon tilt was no different, but Pittsburgh’s depleted troops just couldn’t withstand an energetic Washington squad, falling 3-0 to the Capitals at the Verizon Center.
The game was wide open for most of the first period, but Washington got on the board with just 1:38 remaining. From that point on, the Capitals’ eighth-ranked defense stifled the Penguins’ offense, not allowing them to penetrate the slot area by keeping them pinned to the outside. Washington used their speed to get to the net and fire a total of 24 shots at Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Despite the loss, Fleury put up another solid performance for Pittsburgh, playing especially strong in the second period through three Capitals power plays. Fleury kept his team in the game and gave them a chance to win the entire time, coming up with some huge saves on a number of quality Washington scoring chances.
The loss ended Penguins’ winning streak at five games, but is only Pittsburgh’s second loss in their past 10 games.
Marc-Andre Fleury kept his team in the game for the entire 60 minutes, making 21 saves on the night.
He stood tall through three Washington power play opportunities in the second period, where the Capitals threw four pucks at him and had a plethora of scoring chances during their six minutes on the man-advantage.
Fleury also came up big with some huge saves at crucial moments. He made an outstanding series of saves halfway through the second that cumulated with a pad save on Brooks Laich. He robbed Mike Knuble at point-blank range twice, once in the second and again in the third as the Capitals forward was wide open on the doorstep each time.
As the Capitals' third goal was an empty-netter, Fleury has now allowed two-or-fewer goals in 23 of his last 32 starts.
The Penguins had an opportune chance to tie the game 1-1 when Washington’s Matt Hendricks went to the box for goaltender interference just two minutes into the second period.
But in an unfortunate twist of luck, the puck took a funny bounce on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang when he tried to keep it in on the Capitals blue line. Marcus Johansson capitalized on the loose puck and sped down into Pittsburgh’s zone, throwing a beautiful backhander at Fleury that found the back of the net with five seconds remaining on the Penguins’ power play.
Johansson’s shorthanded tally put Washington up 2-0, a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game before scoring an empty-net goal to cement their victory.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Brooks Laich scored a blue-collar goal, Marcus Johansson got a flashy one, and the Washington Capitals stayed super on Super Sunday, beating the star-starved Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0.
The Capitals won their eighth straight Super Bowl matinee and snapped the five-game winning streak of their dreaded rival Penguins, who are dealing with a likely season-ending knee injury to Evgeni Malkin and are awaiting Sidney Crosby's return from a concussion.
Pittsburgh's hopes for a Super Sunday double - the Steelers were playing for the NFL title later in the day - were stifled by an improved Washington defense anchored by Michal Neuvirth, who made 22 saves in his first start since Jan. 18.
Mike Knuble added an empty net goal for the Capitals, who controlled the flow of play for most of the game and picked up some needed momentum, winning their second straight following a three-game losing streak.
- The Penguins’ top-ranked penalty kill didn't allow Washington to score on any of their five power-play opportunities. Pittsburgh remains at No. 1 in the league in that category with an 88.9-percent success rate. They’ve now killed off 31 of 32 opposition power plays on the road over their past eight games, with their overall road record now 15-7-3 on the season.
- In the closing seconds of the opening period, a Brooks Orpik blast from the point caught Capitals defenseman Mike Green in the side of the head. Green went down immediately with blood getting on the ice. Although he skated off the ice of his own accord, he did not return for the remainder of the game.
- The Penguins are now 4-2 in the five games that captain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have missed together this season. Sunday’s tilt marked the 13th game Crosby has missed since suffering a mild concussion on Jan. 6. It’s the first game Malkin has sat out since the Penguins announced on Feb. 5 that he had sustained a torn ACL and MCL on Feb. 4 against Buffalo. He had played just 6:03 of ice time in that game, his first one back after missing five with a sinus infection.
- The Penguins have now lost both of their games they have played on Super Bowl Sunday. Last year, Pittsburgh fell to Washington in overtime by a score of 5-4 on Feb. 7.
#1. Michal Neuvirth
Goaltender - 30
#2. Brooks Laich
Center - 21
#3. Marcus Johansson
Center - 90
1 shorthanded goal
Author: Michelle Crechiolo