Michal Neuvirth and Karl Alzner celebrate after the Capitals 1-0 shutout of the Penguins

Karl Alzner congratulates Michal Neuvirth on his third shutout of the year and second straight blanking of the Penguins. (Photo credit: Gregory Shamus)

Alex Ovechkin celebrates his second period goal, his fifth powerplay goal of the year. (Photo credit: Christian Petersen)

Alex Ovechkin celebrates his second period goal, his fifth power play marker of the year. (Photo credit: Christian Petersen)

After besting the Sabres on Sunday, the Capitals took the 178 mile journey down to Pittsburgh to take on a depleted Penguins team. Much was up for the taking Monday night. With a win versus the Pens, the Caps could go finish their pivotal 5-game road trip above .500, move within a point of the Lightning for the Southeast lead and take the season series with Pittsburgh. But despite their injuries, the Penguins remained no slouch. Added with the motivation of playing a Washington team that defeated them on Feb. 6 and in the Winter Classic, the Capitals couldn’t take the Penguins for granted. And they didn’t.

The first period, though scoreless, was certainly energetic. Both teams weren’t afraid to mix it up and play physical as the goalies shut things down. The Caps may have been outshot 18-7 for the frame but they were not without opportunities, including an Alex Ovechkin breakaway chance where the Great Eight was stoned by Marc-Andre Flurey.

The fireworks really began in the second period when Matt Bradley delivered a huge hit on Capitals fan favorite Matt Cooke, receiving a charging penalty in the process. The Pens Jordan Staal proceeded to tackle Bradley to the ice as a scrum formed. Ryan Craig would ask Bradley to answer for the hit when the two dropped the gloves at 11:26 but Craig ended up getting the worst of Bradley’s fists. Shouldn’t Cooke be fighting his own battles? I don’t think I have to answer that one.

While on the power play at 16:38 in the frame, Marcus Johansson fed the puck to a waiting Alex Ovechkin. Ovi then unleashed an unreal, laser beam of a one-timer. BOOM! Caps: 1, Pens: 0

And that would be it. Pittsburgh put 14 shots on Washington netminder Michal Neuvirth in the third period but Neuvy remained as solid as a brick wall. Shutout. World Peace. Something funny here. Caps beat Penguins, 1-0.

  • When was the last time the Penguins scored a goal against the Capitals you ask? Early in the second period of the Winter Classic. That’s 157:47 of game time. Michal Neuvirth, whom Dan Bylsma referred to as “shaky” on HBO’s 24/7, has secured the last two shutouts. Disco Dan should probably keep his lips sealed in the future when it comes to masked men.
  • Monday’s team win was made possible by brilliant, individual efforts such as Boyd Gordon’s first period tackle, John Carlson’s textbook lift check on Max Talbot’s breakaway and John Erskine’s first period step up on Craig Adams. All around good effort from everyone.
  • Did Matt Bradley‘s name trend worldwide on Twitter because hockey fans hate Cooke just that much? Or was it just because of Caps fans love for the paper-thin skinned one? Regardless, Ian is snail-mailing him a one dollar bonus for doing what DJ King is supposed to do: enforce.
  • Alex Ovechkin, who has tallies in four out of his last six games, scored the Capitals first game-winning power play goal of the year. Ovi also had eight shots, four blistering hits and two blocked shots. In a post several weeks ago when the Great Eight’s season was looking grim, Neil believed that Ovechkin was suffering from bad luck and that his goal totals would go back to normal. He forecasted that Ovi would total fifteen goals after the All-Star break. He’s now on pace for fourteen. Neil will be predicting Powerball numbers for the rest of the week.

  • How tough was tonight’s game? Both teams combined to dole out 64 hits and and it seemed like every whistle lead to a whole lot of head-locks. Nicklas Backstrom even got into the fray by powerfully removing Jordan Staal from a small fracas during the last minute of the game. Mean Lars.
  • The Capitals, who were heavily out-chanced by Pittsburgh 22-13, managed only two scoring chances in the third period and were out shot 39 to 24. Would a healthy Penguins team have been able to come back tonight?
  • The only thing regarding Alexander Semin that most fans will remember about this game was his first period delay-of-game penalty where he airmailed a clearing attempt into the seventh row. We’re glad no children were harmed in the making of that two minute minor.

The Capitals finished their road trip in style beating two stubborn teams including their arch-rival, picking up six points overall for the journey. It could have been much worse. Washington should build on that fact for the stretch run. It’s going to be tough battle for the Southeast Division crown.

The Caps will have a few days off. I will have a few days off. Yes, the spa does sound lovely. We’ll see you here Friday night.

Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Neil Greenberg.

  • Pattyo

    What happened to the “suit of the night” picture?

  • http://twitter.com/chris_gordon Chris Gordon

    Pattyo, Joe B. has been fired from Versus and we don’t care too much about other play-by-play men. But the game will be back on CSN Washington on Friday so we’ll have one for you then!

  • Gracie

    “Paper-thin skinned one” I think is possibly one of the best things I’ve ever read off this blog.

    Speaking of twitter, was it just me or does more beers for Laughlin = more tweets? Loved it. Next best thing to hearing him in my living room

  • http://twitter.com/jennrubenstein jenn

    i was thinking bruce’s tie would have been a good one-time stand-in for the suit-of-the-night picture. also, FREE JOE B!!!

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  • Avtopilot

    Pens lose, Caps win.

    Absolute harmony…

    :-)

  • barb

    actually #28 fans will remember not only his first penalty since his return, but semin’s great job keeping staal from scoring on that breakaway. it’s the same stick-lift trick that john carlson executed quite well later. you noticed the second one by carlson but not the first one by semin? :)

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  • Em

    Ahhhhhh, so amazing being at that game! Also amazing–we just won both games in a back-to-back for the first time this season. :)

  • Katie

    I felt very warm and fuzzy on Neuvy’s behalf. It’s like after that HBO special aired he decided he was going to everything in his power to give a big F*** You to Disco Dan. Boy did he ever. Nice to see a PPG, and have it be from Ovie. It would have been much tougher with Crosby and Malkin in the mix probably, but it is what it is. I hope recent events signal that Ovie and the PP are getting back on track. Ovie looked determined last night.

    I have to say that for a game where only one goal was scored, it was still very entertaining.

    Now I’m waiting to hear what moves GMGM will make in the next 6 days. I’m hoping the Semin rumors are false.

  • http://www.twitter.com/conway45 Jon

    At what point do we start a “Team Neuvy” vs “Team Varly” campaign?

  • WB

    What Semin rumors?

    Neuvirth played outstanding and our defense has become really strong, I like 23 and 55 pairing more than 52 and 55.

    Lets go Caps!

  • Avtopilot

    @ Jon:
    at 29th of February

  • J.P.

    @barb
    From Ed Frankovic’s recap:

    “As for Semin, I am not sure he broke much of a sweat in 17 minutes of hockey. He routinely turned the puck over in the offensive zone with too many moves and he was not physical at all along the wall like he can be when he puts his mind to playing hockey.”

    I happen to like Semin a lot, but until he stops with the disappearing act and replaces it with hustle night-in and night-out, well, the barbs (no pun intended) will continue to fly his way (Shrug).

  • JW90

    hey guys when is the next prospect watch coming out? Id quite like to know what kuzya is gonna do now his season is over. thnx

  • FedFed

    Yeah, we’re working on the rebuild of the Prospect Watch, but everybody’s very busy.

  • barb

    at jay pee: ed doesn’t like semin, of course he’s not going to find anything to like about his play. no surprise there. it’s like people are watching two different games when the guy is on the ice.

    that seems to go around a lot of the dc blogs. if the blogger doesn’t like semin, he can do no right. if the blogger does like semin, they’ll find something to appreciate. so let’s agree to disagree. i won’t say you’re crazy and blind if your favorite players are eric fehr and mike knuble, and you can let me admire semin’s abilities. :)