Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 7-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.
* The Pens had a rough final few seconds of the first period. It started when Evgeni Malkin went after Karl Alzner for crashing the net after Matt Murray had covered the puck. As they exchanged words and shoves, Malkin accidentally knocked off Murray's helmet and then his stick caught Murray up high. Murray went down and after being tended to by head athletic trainer Chris Stewart, went down the runway to the locker room and was replaced by Marc-Andre Fleury. And right after he came in, T.J. Oshie scored his second of the game with 7.9 seconds left to give Washington a 3-0 lead. Fleury started the second and played the rest of the game with Murray on the bench in full equipment. Murray said he was fine and that it was a coach's decision to keep him out after he went through the concussion protocol.
* I'm going to let head coach Mike Sullivan describe this game…
"We played a team that was more competitive than us tonight. And they were better than us tonight. I don't know how else to explain it other than the fact that I'm a strong believer that I think your mindset going into games is critically important to your ability to have success. And our team, as a group tonight, we weren't ready to play. We can search for solutions tactically, but sometimes this game's more about will than it is about skill. It's a competitive league and if you're not ready to play, you're going to get beat. … These games are humbling. We were embarrassed out there tonight. All of us. And it's humbling when you go through it. My hope is that we learn from it and make sure that it doesn't happen again."
* However, tactically speaking, the Pens were killed tonight by puck management and the Caps' transition game. Two of Washington's goals came after they intercepted pucks at their own blue line - one a turnover, the other a blocked shot - streaked down the ice before the Pens could recover, and capitalized on the chances they had created. It was reminiscent of the 5-1 loss to Nashville on Oct. 22. And like that night, the Pens just didn't have an answer.
* When the Caps weren't putting away those quick strike opportunities, they were spending a lot of time in the offensive zone and the Pens had trouble defending them. When the Pens weren't chasing, they were collapsing and letting the Caps move the puck without a lot of opposition. The Pens weren't forcing turnovers or getting clears. They were giving the Caps too much time and space.
* There was a lot of talk heading into this game about how dangerous the Caps power play is even though the numbers aren't where they usually are (it ranked 24th heading into the game). Washington's penalty kill was actually their special team that dominated. The Pens gave up one shorthanded goal, and the Caps certainly had their opportunities to get more. They played an aggressive style that the Pens struggled with, and continued to play that quick transition game even down a man.
* However, it wasn't like the Pens didn't give Washington chances to up their ranking on the power play. They took 28 minutes worth of penalties and gave the Caps seven power plays. A number of them were those stick infractions the Pens struggled with so much at the beginning of the year - slashing, tripping, hooking. The Pens had done a decent job lately of being a much more disciplined team, but frustration seeped back into their game tonight and it resulted in too many trips to the penalty box.