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Aftermath: Capitals 3, Penguins 2

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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Pittsburgh dropped Game 1 of its second-round matchup to the Washington Capitals, 3-2. Despite all the hoopla of a wide-open game, the contest was played tight with a lot of back-and-forth action.

Neither team truly dominated but the Penguins looked particularly impressive at cycling the puck in the Washington zone. Over the haul of a long playoff series, that type of play will work in Pittsburgh’s favor and will wear the Capitals down.  

The turning point in the game was an amazing late second-period save by Capitals goalie Simeon Varlamov on Sidney Crosby. The score was tied at 2-2 and a late Penguins’ tally may have tilted the outcome in Pittsburgh’s favor.

The pressure is on the home team to win the first two games of the series. The Penguins will have a chance to steal Game 2 Monday night and would love to leave Washington with an early split.
(AP) -Alex Ovechkin contributed a power-play goal, yet it was a few of his unheralded teammates on the Washington Capitals who made the difference in Game 1 of their showdown against Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tomas Fleischmann scored the tiebreaking goal with 18:14 remaining, rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov stopped 34 shots, and the Capitals got the jump on their Eastern Conference rivals with a 3-2 victory Saturday.

Brooks Orpik flattened Washington's Alexander Seimin (photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Even-Strength Play
The Penguins were the better team during five-on-five play. They had better possession time, recorded more shots and were more disciplined (taking only two penalties while drawing five with their speed). Pittsburgh’s depth was on display as it rolled through four lines and that will keep the team fresh throughout this series.

What Could Have Gone Better: Power Play
The Penguins had five power-play chances but couldn’t convert a score. In a one-goal game, just one man-advantage tally could have changed the outcome of the game. Still, Pittsburgh remains confident that their power play will improve and will tweak some things for Game 2. 
Sidney Crosby scored the game’s opening goal (and nearly had a second tally if not for a spectacular desperation save by Simeon Varlamov). He added six shots, two hits and 24:12 minutes of ice time.
The Penguins struck first with a tally from Sidney Crosby. Bill Guerin won a puck battle along the wall in the neutral zone and pushed it ahead to Crosby. The Penguins captain skated into the Capitals zone, drifted into the high slot and ripped a shot past the glove of rookie netminder Simeon Varlamov. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 0.

Washington tied the game at 1-1 with six minutes left in the first period. Matt Bradley had the puck in the far corner and threw a shot towards the Pittsburgh net. Marc-Andre Fleury kicked the puck away but David Steckel was there to bury the goal. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 1.

Washington took the lead late in the first period with a five-on-three tally. Nicklas Backstrom had the puck along the far goal line. He fed to Alexander Semin at the midpoint. Semin sent a slap-pass to Alex Ovechkin below the near circle. Ovechkin one-timed the puck across the goal line. Washington 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Pittsburgh tied the game with seven minutes left in the second period. Evgeni Malkin stole the puck from a scrum along the boards in the Pittsburgh zone. He skated deep into the Washington zone, pulled up and flipped the puck back to Mark Eaton at the near blue line. Eaton’s slap shot deflected off of a Capitals’ stick and eluded Varlamov for the tying tally. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 2.

The Capitals regained the lead with a score just over a minute into the third period. Washington carried the puck on a two-on-one opportunity. Backstrom flipped a crossing pass that Tomas Fleischmann one-timed. Fleury got a piece of the puck but it still sputtered across the goal line. Washington 3, Pittsburgh 2
Forward Petr Sykora was back in the lineup for Game 1 after sitting out the previous two games of the Flyers’ series.

Both goalies played very well. Marc-Andre Fleury was particularly impressive during the opening minutes of the second period when the Capitals threw an onslaught of shots his way. Fleury turned them all aside to keep the game close. Simeon Varlamov made possibly the best save of the playoffs when he reached back with his goalie stick to deny Sidney Crosby’s one-timer into what appeared to be a vacant cage.

Star Tracker:
Sidney Crosby: 1G, +1, 24:12 minutes, 6 shots
Alex Ovechkin: 1G, -1, 21:13 minutes, 9 shots
Evgeni Malkin: 1A, -1, 20:49 minutes, 2 shots
Alexander Semin: 2A, E, 17:24 minutes, 2 shots
> > Pittsburgh trails its second-round series with Washington, 1-0, and is 2-2 on the road in the postseason.

Head coach Dan Bylsma has a career postseason record of 4-3.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S.Crosby (5), 4:09 1st period: Penguins 1, Capitals 0
WSH, D.Steckel (1), 13:50 1st period: Penguins 1, Capitals 1
WSH, A.Ovechkin PP (4), 17:03 1st period: Capitals 2, Penguins 1
PIT, M.Eaton (3), 12:54 2nd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 2
WSH, T.Fleischmann (2), 1:46 3rd period: Capitals 3, Penguins 2

> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s scoring champion, tallied an assists for his 10th playoff point (4G-6A).

> Sidney Crosby scored a goal and has nine postseason points (5G-4A).

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves in the losing effort.

> Mark Eaton scored his third goal of the playoffs and second in as many games.
1. S.Varlamov, WSH
2. D.Steckel, WSH
3. S.Crosby, PIT
"At the end of the day their power play (scored) and ours didn't.
That was the one-goal difference."
- Brooks Orpik


Author: Sm Kasan

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