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Aftermath: Capitals 5, Penguins 4 OT

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Video: Game Highlights 

Photos: Caps 5, Pens 4 (OT)
Aftermath: Pens vs. Capitals
Blog: Pens vs. Caps Game Blog
So, how long do we have to wait for the Penguins and Capitals to meet again? Well, for the record, March 24 is the next time these two titans will face one another. After the performance put on display by Pittsburgh and Washington on Sunday, fans are already salivating for Round Three.

In one of the best regular-season games in some time, the Penguins overcame playing less than 24 hours earlier in Montreal, and not arriving in Washington until 2:30 a.m. following a long bus ride from Newark, NJ, to jump out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of Sidney Crosby goals. They constantly forced Washington turnovers thanks to a ferocious forecheck and ran that lead to 4-1 on two goals from Jordan Staal in the middle frame.

Unfortunately, it appeared all the travel the Penguins went through might have caught up with them in the final period as Alex Ovechkin completed his hat trick with two goals to send the game into overtime, where the Capitals won the game on a Mike Knuble power-play tally. Despite not getting the win, the Penguins were able to pick up one point against the team with the most points in the Eastern Conference on a day when nobody would have faulted them for coming out flat.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Neither snow nor ice nor a three-goal deficit could keep Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals from stunning their archrivals and winning a 14th straight game.

The Penguins celebrate Jordan Staal's second-period goal
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Fast Start
You never would have known the Penguins didn’t arrive in Washington until 2:30 a.m. because they came out flying against the Capitals. Sidney Crosby scored twice within the first 9:59 of the game as the Penguins opened a 2-0 lead on the Capitals and silenced a rowdy crowd.

What Could Have Gone Better: Protecting the Lead
Two more goals in the second period off the blade of Jordan Staal increased the Penguins’ lead to 4-1 with just over 26 minutes remaining in the contest. However, Eric Fehr tallied late in the second period and Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period to allow the Capitals to come all the way back in a game they eventually won in overtime.
We are going to go in a different direction with this choice. Instead of giving a player the difference maker, we are giving today’s nod to the National Hockey League for having the foresight to schedule this premier matchup featuring arguably the league’s top three players on Super Bowl Sunday, a day when sports fans throughout the country are home glued to their TV sets.

The league looked even better when the two teams engaged in one of the top regular season games in recent memory. The Penguins Sidney Crosby scored twice in the first period as Pittsburgh opened up a 4-1 lead on the Capitals. Not to be outdone, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin notched a hat trick on the other side. When you add in the two assists from reigning scoring champion Evgeni Malkin, you have a game which, although the Penguins didn’t win, showcased how great the new NHL is to a world-wide audience.
Sidney Crosby opened the scoring seven minutes into the contest when he intercepted a Tyler Sloan pass along the left boards, skated around a couple Capitals in the slot and threw a backhander between the legs of Jose Theodore for his 38th goal. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 0.

Crosby struck again exactly three minutes later. Evgeni Malkin made a great backhand pass in the slot to Crosby all alone below the circles. The Penguins captain made a nifty move and tucked the puck into the cage past Theodore. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 0.

Alex Ovechkin got the Capitals on the board when he took a long lead pass from Jeff Schultz and beat Marc-Andre Fleury to the five-hole on a breakaway midway through the second period. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 1.

Pittsburgh regained their two-goal advantage thanks to a quick-developing play. Matt Cooke worked the puck behind the cage to Tyler Kennedy, who quickly fed the puck to Jordan Staal standing just outside the crease. Staal tapped a shot through the legs of Theodore for his 15th goal. Pittsburgh 3, Washington 1.

Washington was careless with the puck yet again and Malkin took advantage. He intercepted a Tom Poti pass at the Capitals blue line, skated down the right wing and sent a perfect pass onto the blade of Staal, whose wrist shot beat Theodore over the glove for his second goal of the period. Pittsburgh 4, Washington 1.

Eric Fehr cut into the Pittsburgh lead as he stayed with his initial shot, a backhander stopped by Fleury, and jammed the rebound through the legs of the Penguins netminder late in the middle frame. Pittsburgh 4, Washington 2.

Pittsburgh blocked a Washington point shot in the slot, but Ovechkin was right there to send a backhander between the legs of Fleury to get the Capitals within one goal 6:51 into the third period. Pittsburgh 4, Washington 3.

Ovechkin finished off his hat trick by snapping a shot under the blocker of Fleury right off a faceoff to tie the score with 8:54 to play in the third period. Pittsburgh 4, Washington 4.

Ovechkin’s one-timer from the left point on a Washington power play glanced off the post to the left of Fleury and Mike Knuble sneaked in to punch the puck from between the legs of Fleury over the goal line for the winning goal in overtime. Washington 5, Pittsburgh 4.
A familiar face was back in the lineup on Sunday as forward Chris Kunitz returned to the Penguins’ lineup for the first time in 15 games following abdominal surgery. Kunitz skated on the Penguins’ top line with Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin. Although Kunitz didn’t factor onto the scoresheet, he was a factor right from the opening faceoff with his forechecking and net-front presence.

Head coach Dan Bylsma tweaked his D-pairings prior to the game in an effort to match up against the Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom unit. Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang were given the monumental chore of defending the league’s leading scorer. Sergei Gonchar and Mark Eaton were partnered together while Alex Goligoski remained with Jay McKee.
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S. Crosby (38), 6:59 1st period: Penguins 1, Capitals 0
PIT, S. Crosby PP (39), 9:59 1st period: Penguins 2, Capitals 0
WAS, A. Ovechkin (40), 9:01 2nd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 1
PIT, J. Staal (15), 11:53 2nd period: Penguins 3, Capitals 1
PIT, J. Staal (16), 13:07 2nd period: Penguins 4, Capitals 1
WAS, E. Fehr (15), 17:12 2nd period: Penguins 4, Capitals 2
WAS, A. Ovechkin (41), 6:51 3rd period: Penguins 4, Capitals 3
WAS, A. Ovechkin (42), 11:06 3rd period: Penguins 4, Capitals 4
WAS, M. Knuble (21), 2:49 overtime: Capitals 5, Penguins 4

> Despite the loss the Penguins still picked up a point against the Capitals, giving them 72 on the season, just two behind the New Jersey Devils for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

> Since head coach Dan Bylsma took over on Feb. 15, 2009, the Penguins are 53-26-5 in the regular season and 26-15-3 on the road.

> Sidney Crosby’s two goals give him 39 on the season, tying his career high set in the 2005-06 season. Crosby’s goal total ranks second in the NHL. Crosby also ran his consecutive point streak to four games (6G-1A).

> Crosby’s two-goal performance was his 10th multiple-goal effort of the season.

> Evgeni Malkin picked up two more helpers against the Capitals to run his season-high scoring streak to 10-consecutive games. During the stretch Malkin has picked up 18 points (7G-11A).

> Crosby or Malkin have figured in on 27 of the Penguins’ last 29 goals.

> Jordan Staal ran his scoring streak to three-consecutive games with two goals against the Capitals. Staal has notched four points (3G-1A) during the stretch. He now has 16 goals on the season, fourth most on the team.

> Alex Goligoski continues to play well since returning from an undisclosed injury. He picked up an assist on Crosby’s second goal, giving him three assists over his past four games.
1. A. Ovechkin
2. S. Crosby
3. E. Fehr
"It wasn’t a typical day of traveling on the
road. But I don’t think
that’s any excuse."

- Sidney Crosby


Author: Jason Seidling

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