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Aftermath: Capitals 4, Penguins 3

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  
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QUICK ANALYSIS
 
The Penguins played as good a game as you could play and still came up short against the Washington Capitals. Pittsburgh scored two power-play goals and dominated possession time, but suffered a disappointing outcome.

The game was similar to a heavyweight championship bout. Each team exchanged blows throughout but in the end Round 2 went to the Capitals.

The Penguins trail 2-0 as the series heads back to Pittsburgh. Although Pittsburgh wanted a split in the opening two games in Washington, it will have to turn all of its attention towards the critical Game 3.

Head coach Dan Bylsma and his Penguins have overcome adversity in the past. They are really being tested now. Its time for the Penguins to show what they’re made of and answer the challenge.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) - Alex Ovechkin got his first playoff hat trick. Sidney Crosby matched him, but his was too little, too late.

Ovechkin broke open a tie game with a pair of goals less than 3 minutes apart in the third period Monday night, leading the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Sidney Crosby celebrated after scoring on Simeon Varlamov (photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked Well: Pressure, Pressure, Pressure
The Penguins wanted to bring the pressure and they did. Pittsburgh had a decisive edge in possession time and spent extended portions of the game in the Capitals zone. The Penguins spent the entire first half of the third period in Washington territory. Even though the game didn’t go the Penguins’ way, the more time you are in the attacking zone, the better chance you have to win.

What Could Have Gone Better: The Two-Goal Lead
The Penguins had leads of 1-0 and 2-1. However, each time they could not net another score to give themselves a two-goal cushion. It was not for lack of trying. Pittsburgh peppered the Capitals goal with shots and had a ton of chances. They came inches close on a few occasions but just couldn’t convert. 
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Sidney Crosby was a one-man wrecking ball for the Penguins. He scored all three of Pittsburgh’s goals in the contest for his first career postseason hat trick. Crosby logged 22:26 minutes of ice time and took five shots to lead the offense. All three of his goals were scored close to the paint.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
Sidney Crosby tallied the opening goal for the second straight contest. The Penguins were working on a power play when Washington’s Brooks Laich broke his stick, creating a de facto five-on-three. Sergei Gonchar ripped a one-timer from the midpoint. Capitals goalie Simeon Varlamov made the save but Crosby slipped the rebound under his pad for the goal. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 0.

Washington tied the game with a tally early in the second period. Sergei Federov carried the puck into the Penguins zone and pulled up at the near blue line. He pushed the puck to Viktor Kozlov, who carried the puck down the slot. Kozlov fed a cross-ice pass to Alex Ovechkin, who one-timed a shot into the goal from above the far circle. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 1.

The Penguins retook the lead on Crosby’s second score of the contest. Chris Kunitz made a great play to keep a clearing attempt in the Capitals zone along the near wall. He threw the puck across the ice to Bill Guerin. The veteran sent a shot on net. Crosby collected the rebound and flipped the puck into the goal. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 1.

The Capitals tied the game late in the second period. Tyler Sloan took a shot from the midpoint. The shot never got on net because it was deflected and caromed right to David Steckel, who was all alone to the left of the net. Steckel settled the puck before throwing it underneath Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 2.

Washington took its first lead of the game with a power-play goal from Ovechkin. The Capitals won a faceoff in the Penguins zone and pushed the puck to Mike Green at the far point. Green sent a cross-ice pass to Ovechkin, who slammed home the go-ahead goal. Washington 3, Pittsburgh 2.

Ovechkin netted his first career postseason hat trick late in the third period to add on to the Capitals’ lead. He carried the puck into the Penguins zone and ripped a shot from the high slot over the glove of Fleury. Washington 4, Pittsburgh 2.

The Penguins cut into Washington’s lead on Crosby’s third goal of the game with 30 seconds left in the game. He took a few whacks at the puck from the left side of the net. Finally, Crosby baseball-style hacked an airborne puck into the netting for his first career postseason hat trick. Washington 4, Pittsburgh 3.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
The Penguins used the same lineup from Game 1, scratching forwards Miroslav Satan and Eric Godard and defenseman Philippe Boucher.

Super Star lines:
Sidney Crosby: 3G, +1, 22:26 minutes, 5 shots
Alex Ovechkin: 3G, +2, 23:32 minutes, 12 shots, 4 hits
Evgeni Malkin: 1A, -2, 19:49 minutes, 6 shots, 2 hits
Alexander Semin: -1, 19:51 minutes, 3 shots, 1 hit
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh trails its second-round series with Washington, 2-0, and is 2-3 on the road in the postseason.

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

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S.Crosby PP (6), 6:38 1st period: Penguins 1, Capitals 0
WSH, A.Ovechkin (5), 2:18 2nd period: Penguins 1, Capitals 1
PIT, S.Crosby (7), 10:57 2nd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 1
WSH, D.Steckel (2), 15:49 2nd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 2
WSH, A.Ovechkin PP (6), 12:53 3rd period: Capitals 3, Penguins 2
WSH, A.Ovechkin (7), 15:22 3rd period: Capitals 4, Penguins 2
PIT, S.Crosby PP (8), 19:30 3rd period: Capitals 4, Penguins 3

> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s Art Ross champion, notched an assist and has 11 points in the postseason (4G-7A).

> Sidney Crosby recorded his first career postseason hat trick with three goals in the game to give him 12 total postseason points (8G-4A). Crosby has seven goals in his last five games and has a point in seven of eight playoff games.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves in the losing effort.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. A.Ovechkin, Was
2. S.Crosby, Pit
3. S.Varlamov, Was
"We have a chance to do it going home. Our group has responded
at tough times this year. I’m confident we’ll respond in Game 3."
- Dan Bylsma
 

 


Author: Sam Kasan

Author: Sam Kasan

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