For two teams being filmed for an all-access reality series, it was only fitting that their first meeting ended in a dramatic seven-round shootout.
Pascal Dupuis ended the show when he netted the game-deciding tally with a quick snap shot past Washington goalie Michal Neuvirth to give the Penguins a 3-2 win over the Capitals.
While Dupuis may have ended the show, it was Marc-Andre Fleury who stole it. The Capitals came out flying during the first 40 minutes, holding a 25-12 advantage in shots following the second period. Washington assaulted Fleury with 34 shots in regulation, a multitude of those being quality scoring chances. But Flower played huge in the win, making 32 saves.
After the spectacular goaltending of Fleury, it was the Penguins’ penalty kill that gave them a chance to win. Washington finished the night with six power plays, including two lengthy 5-on-3 opportunities (one in the first period and one in the second) for a total of 2:39 of time with the two-man advantage.
The Capitals finished the night 1-for-6, as Mike Green scored right after their 5-on-3 (that lasted for 1:51) expired. But the Penguins killed off Washington's first 5-on-3 opportunity in the first period to hold onto their one-goal lead. To top it off, the Penguins kept Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals' other big guns from finding the back of the net.
Despite playing the previous night, the Penguins took over the game in the third period with Chris Kunitz scoring just 17 seconds in. Pittsburgh is now 6-1-0 in the second of back-to-back contests.
With the win, Pittsburgh is now the No. 1 team in the NHL and is the first squad this season to reach 50 points.
The Capitals tested Marc-Andre Fleury early and often, peppering the Penguins netminder with 12 shots over the first 20 minutes, including six over the first three minutes.
But Fleury was in the zone from the get-go, saving them all to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead entering the middle frame. He proceeded to make 32 saves on the night and stoned six Capitals players in the shootout to backstop the Penguins to a 3-2 win.
His biggest save of the night came at the 2:35 mark of overtime when Capitals defenseman Mike Green, known for his offensive abilities, forged a path straight to the net. With Fleury caught flat on his back, Green could already envision the red light going off – until Flower reached back and snagged the puck just before it crossed the line.
One of the Penguins’ favorite sayings is that their goaltender has to be their best penalty-killer, and did Fleury ever embody that motto on Thursday. With the offensive firepower the Capitals have, they’re extremely dangerous on the power play – their PP finished last season ranked 1st in the league and entered Thursday’s game ranked 10th overall. But Fleury frustrated Washington’s snipers with his phenomenal play, allowing just one puck to sneak past him on while shorthanded.
He’s now allowed two-or-less goals on 14 occasions, and is now 15-1-1 over his past 17 starts.
Chris Kunitz's goal a mere 17 seconds into the third period to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead seemed to swing the momentum into Pittsburgh's favor, as the team had been outshot 25-12 through the first two frames. But Mike Knuble answered with a tally to send the game into overtime.
And while Marc-Andre Fleury had already played a phenomenal 60 minutes of hockey, it was his save on Washington's Mike Green halfway through the five-minute overtime period that changed the entire game.
He made a beautiful sprawling save while on his back to snatch the puck just before it crossed the goal line. The cameras caught Green splaying his hands in a show of disbelief after he realized Fleury had made the save.
The play stood after a brief video review, and Fleury went on to stone six Capitals shooters in the ensuing shootout for the win.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Sidney Crosby extended his points streak to 23 games with a goal and an assist, and Pascal Dupuis scored the decisive goal in the seventh round of a shootout to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night in a Winter Classic preview.
Crosby, the NHL's leading scorer with 60 points on 29 goals and 31 assists in 36 games, has the NHL's longest points streak since 1992-93 when Quebec's Mats Sundin had a 30-game run.
Chris Kunitz also scored to help the Penguins win their third straight and 15th in 17 games.
• Crosby’s goal just 3:21 into the first period shifted the momentum of a game that had been dominated very early on by the Capitals. Washington started the period off with a bang, firing six shots at Fleury before Crosby redirected Kris Letang’s blast from the point – which was the Pens’ first shot of the game – past goalie Michal Neuvirth.
• Crosby’s tally extended his point streak to a career-best 23 games, awarding him the longest scoring stretch of the post-lockout era. Crosby, who also added an assist, is now the first NHL player since Mats Sundin in 1992-93 to record a point in at least 23 straight games. Sundin had a 30-game streak with the Quebec Nordiques.
• Crosby wasn’t the only Penguins player to extend a point streak. Letang’s assist on Crosby’s goal extended the Penguins defenseman’s point streak to three games – he has a goal and three assists over that span. Malkin also extended his point streak to five games with his helper on Crosby’s tally. The Penguins forward has 10 points (5G-5A) over that span.
• The Capitals finished the night with two 5-on-3 opportunities for a total of 2:39 of time on the two-man advantage. In the first period alone, the Penguins staved a 48-second two-man advantage opportunity, killed off 2:12 of 4-on-3 time and held off the Capitals for exactly one minute with the man-advantage.
• Craig Adams proved why he is one of the Penguins’ best penalty-killers with his performance on Thursday. Through two periods, the Penguins forward had a team-leading 5:28 of shorthanded ice time. He had three blocked shots in the first period alone and sacrificed his body in front of every Capitals blast he could commit to. Shot blocking was the name of the game for the Penguins in the first period, as they had 11 shot blocks to Washington’s three in the first 20 minutes.
• Malkin was awarded a penalty shot just 1:23 into the second period when Capitals defenseman Mike Green hauled the Penguins forward down on a breakaway. Malkin tried going backhand on Michal Neuvirth, but couldn’t lift the puck high enough over the Washington netminder’s pad.