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Aftermath: Capitals 6, Penguins 3

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  

LINKS
Photos | Highlights | Therrien | Cooke | Gill | Satan | Crash The Net
QUICK ANALYSIS
 
The Penguins still haven’t won back-to-back games since mid-November. They had a chance to break that stretch against Washington but came up short against the Capitals. Just when it looked like the Penguins were on the cusp of breaking their slump, they fell for the eighth time in 10 contests.

Pittsburgh was in control in the first period. It dictated the play, created chances and clamped down defensively on the Capitals. The second period was pretty even with both teams exchanging chances. In the third period, Washington took its game to another level and Pittsburgh wasn’t able to match it. The Capitals registered 18 shots and scored four goals in the final frame to edge the Penguins.

Pittsburgh was forced to play the second and third period with only five defensemen after Rob Scuderi took a shot off of his face. Pittsburgh also took six penalties and Washington converted two power-play scores.

Pittsburgh lost the battle and the war late in the third period when Sidney Crosby left the game with an injury. His status wasn’t known following the game.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) - Alex Ovechkin had two goals and an assist and the Washington Capitals snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night.

Niklas Backstrom had three assists, Tomas Fleischmann had a goal and an assist and Viktor Kozlov, Alexander Semin and Jeff Schultz also scored for Washington, which had four third-period goals.

Miroslav Satan had a goal and an assist and Sidney Crosby had two assists for the reeling Penguins, who have lost eight of 10 overall and six of seven at home.

Crosby left the game late in the game after a collision with David Steckel along the boards during a power play. He limped off the ice, favoring his leg, and soon after went to the locker room and did not return. No immediate word was available on his condition.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Evgeni Malkin celebrates his power-play goal in the first period (photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked: Opening Stretch
The Penguins opened the game with force. They made crisp passes, generated a ton of scoring opportunities and controlled the majority of the play. Pittsburgh looked like it hadn’t missed a beat following an impressive victory at Philadelphia. However, the Capitals played better as the game went on and soon the momentum tilted in Washington’s favor.

What Didn't Work: Discipline
The Penguins took six penalties in the game. The Capitals had a power play for over four straight minutes, including two stints of a five-on-three advantage. Washington is too talented and dangerous to give that many man-advantage chances. Pittsburgh managed to hold the fort for a while but eventually the damn broke. Washington capitalized on two power-play scores in the third period that broke Pittsburgh’s back. 
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Alex Ovechkin won the battle of the stars with two goals and an assist for a three-point night. He was also a plus-2 on the evening. Ovechkin saved his best for last as he tallied all three points in the third period. With the game tied at 2-2, Ovechkin pitched in on each of Washington’s next three scores to help the Capitals pull away from the Penguins. He finished the game with 10 shots and three hits.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
Pittsburgh drew first blood in the contest with a power-play score with five forwards on the ice. Petr Sykora nearly slammed in a cross-crease feed from the backdoor but the puck deflected behind the net. Sidney Crosby grabbed the puck and kicked it out quickly to Miroslav Satan. Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore dropped to his knees in front of Satan in a panic. Satan patiently backhanded the puck to Evgeni Malkin in the high slot. Malkin one-timed the shot into the goal past a flailing Theodore for the score. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 0.

The Capitals tied the game early in the second period on Victor Kozlov’s 10th goal of the season. Kozlov fed the puck to Niklas Backstrom, who entered the Penguins zone and dished it back to Kozlov above the near circle. Kozlov tee-ed up a one-timer that hit Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove and fluttered across the goal line. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 1.

Tyler Kennedy made a great play behind the Capitals’ net to help setup the Penguins’ second goal of the game. Washington’s Karl Alzner went to play the puck when Kennedy lifted his stick and stole the puck. Kennedy made a centering pass to Maxime Talbot, who one-timed the puck. Theodore made the save but kicked the puck out to the opposite side of the goal. Miroslav Satan had to reach back and shot the puck into the goal as he was falling down. It was Satan’s 350th career goal. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 1.

The Capitals evened the game on Alexander Semin’s 17th goal of the year. Sergei Federov had the puck near the far corner. He skated the puck out and managed to flip a pass through Hal Gill, who was laying out his body to block the pass. Semin fought through a Matt Cooke check and slapped in the score. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 2.

Washington took its first lead of the game on a power-play goal from Alex Ovechkin. The Penguins killed over four straight minutes of penalty time, including two brief stints of a five-on-three, until Ovechkin scored. Brooks Laich had the puck near the goal line close to the net and made a cross-crease feed to Ovechkin. Fleury made the initial stop but Ovechkin managed to roof the rebound into the cage. Washington 3, Pittsburgh 2.

Ryan Whitney snapped a 30-game goal-less streak to pull the Penguins even with Washington. A delayed penalty was being called when Crosby found Whitney at the point. The Boston University alum placed the puck in the top-right corner for his first goal of the season. Pittsburgh 3, Washington 3.

Washington reclaimed the lead with another power-play goal. Ovechkin sent a bad angle shot onto the net from the near half-wall. Fleury made the save and kicked the rebound into the slot. Tomas Fleischmann made a diving shot into the net. Washington 4, Pittsburgh 3.

It was Ovechkin’s night. The Russian forward scored his second goal of the game and 29th of the year on a fluky play. He skated into the Penguins zone and tried to make a centering pass to Niklas Backstrom. However, the puck hit the skate of Whitney and re-directed into the net. Washington 5, Pittsburgh 3.

Jeff Schultz scored his first goal of the season with an empty-netter to seal the game. The Capitals were killing a power play when Shultz cleared the puck and it bounced across the goal line. Washington 6, Pittsburgh 3.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
The Penguins had a five-on-three advantage early in the first period. Pittsburgh deployed five forwards on the attack with Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Petr Sykora, Miroslav Satan and Matt Cooke. The plan almost backfired when one of the Capitals exited the box and nearly had a breakaway. Marc-Andre Fleury poked the loose puck away. Moments after that scare, the Penguins did convert for a man-advantage goal with five forwards still on the ice.

In the last game between these two clubs, Alex Ovechkin took a few runs at Malkin. Ovechkin went out of his way to hit Malkin the entire game. Malkin was getting some payback in the first period. While killing a penalty, Malkin landed a big hit on Ovechkin along the boards. Then he cross checked Ovechkin from behind and flattened him. Malkin got two minutes for the hit but I’m sure he enjoyed it.

Rob Scuderi gave the Mellon Arena crowd a scare when he blocked a Mike Green shot with his face. Scuderi lay motionless on the ice but was able to skate himself off the ice and to the locker room with a towel covering his face. He did not return in the game. Pittsburgh rotated its five remaining defensemen for the last two periods. Pittsburgh lost Maxime Talbot early in the third period. The Penguins also lost Crosby late in the third frame (read below).

Ovechkin landed a late hit on Crosby that knocked him off his skates. Cooke, sticking up for his new linemate, gave Ovechkin a shoulder bump as they skated past each other. Cooke was given an interference penalty but he proved that he won’t let his teammates get pushed around.

Crosby and David Steckel collided along the boards late in the third period and both players went down awkwardly. Crosby hobbled on his way to the bench with the aid of a linesman. At the first whistle stop in play, Crosby left the ice for the locker room. There was no word on his condition following the game.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh dropped to 21-20-4 on the year, with a 9-9-2 mark at Mellon Arena. Pittsburgh is 2-8-0 in its last nine games. 

> Pittsburgh struck first with a power-play goal from Evgeni Malkin at 5:45 of the first period. Washington tied the game 1:06 into the second period on Victor Kozlov’s 10th score of the year. The Penguins briefly regained the lead at 8:23 on Miroslav Satan’s 13th score of the campaign. The Capitals evened the game at 12:40 on Alexander Semin’s 17th goal. Alex Ovechkin gave Washington its first lead with a power-play goal 1:48 into the third period. Ryan Whitney tied the game with his first goal of the season at 3:12. The Capitals upped their advantage, 5-3, on a pair of goals by Tomas Fleischmann (15) and Ovechkin (29). Jeff Schultz added an empty-netter to seal the game with 1:06 left.

> Evgeni Malkin scored a goal against Washington to extend his NHL lead in points to 67 (18G-49A). Malkin’s 49 assists are a league best.

> Sidney Crosby recorded two assists against the Capitals. He is second in the league in scoring with 59 points (17G-42A) and his 42 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 49. Crosby has registered a point in five straight games, compiling two goals and seven assists for nine points in that stretch.

> Miroslav Satan scored his 350th career goal in the game. He added an assist for a two-point night. Satan has three points in his last two games (1G-2A). 

> Ryan Whitney snapped a 30-game goal-less streak with his first goal of the season. Whitney hadn’t scored a regular season goal since Feb. 21 at Montreal. 

>
Mellon Arena sold out for the 87th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 16,975.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. Alex Ovechkin, WAS
2. Niklas Backstrom, WAS
3. Sidney Crosby, PIT
“First couple of periods I played an emotional game.
Today I think it was very emotion game for us, a
road game against a great team.”
- Alex Ovechkin
 

 



Author: Sam Kasan

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