Dennis Wideman celebrates his OTGWG. (Photo credit: Gregory Shamus)
For the third time in three games, the Washington Capitals required extra time to make a decision, and for the third time the Capitals proved themselves the better team. The Pittsburgh Penguins did their best to play a classy game of hockey, but then they realized they’re the Penguins and punked out. Read on and you’ll find out how.
James Neal was wide open to take a wide pass and make it 1-0 on the game’s first shot. Mike Knuble worked hard to kanoob the puck to tie it back up. Alex Ovechkin deflected a Mike Green shot that required a review to be called a goal. On a late power play, Malkin found Neal with a cross-ice pass to tie it up. Into OT and on the power play, Dennis Wideman put enough stank on the puck to evade Johnson. Caps beat Pens 3-2 (OT).
- Alex Ovechkin finally welcomed himself to a goal in this still-young season. Yeah, it was a deflection off of Mike Green and Alex was otherwise a non-entity, but whatever. We’ll take what we can get.
- Arron Asham and Jay Beagle fought. Beagle acquitted himself quite well until Asham knocked his visor into his mouth. There was blood. A lot. Arron didn’t give Beagle much of a choice. Why is the instigator rule even in the book if it’s not enforced?
- Here’s hoping Jay’s okay after that fight.
- Mike Knuble‘s 2nd period goal makes his 31st against Pittsburgh. [Insert apolitical joke about killing penguins and man-made climate change here.] It was one of his filthiest, most kanooblian tallies of all time ever in the history of man. He didn’t even need a stick.
- The Penguins defense did a stunning job suffocating an inchoate Capitals offense for most of the game. Possession was the name of the game, particularly in the first, and the Pens had it won. The Great 8, in particular, was mostly nullified by the claustrophobic coverage provided by Zbynek Michalek. Unrelated point: Z‘s should not be followed by B‘s ever. If you name your kid Zbynek, it’s sadly too late to sterilize yourself.
- The Caps got utterly mauled in scoring chances 11 to 25, 10-20 at even strength. There was only one scoring chance on the power play, the one Dennis Wideman converted. So yeah: this was a squeaker of a win if there ever were one.
- A bad night for Marcus Johansson, who wasn’t his usual self. He was on ice for 9 Pittsburgh scoring chances, five of six in the first period. Yeesh.
- There’s a PIM differential of 8 in the Caps’ direction. This surprises no one and is hardly worth a bullet, but it’s still pathetic. At least the Caps spoiled all but one Pens power play. But that last one by James Neal… grah. That burns.
- Tomas Vokoun made for an easy target after last game, but consider this: the dude took over 40 pucks tonight in front of a defense that didn’t really have his back. The first goal against was the result of poor coverage, the second the fruit of a gorgeous Malkin pass. There were 19 stopped scoring chances in the interim. So let’s all dial back on the Vokoun bile now.
- Neil points out that Jeff Halpern took three offensive draws tonight, equal to Brooks Laich and one more than Nick Backstrom. Why aren’t the scoring lines being deployed when they have a better chance to score? Is it because Jeff isn’t trusted in the defensive zone?
Okay, Alan May. This is just creepy:
That was like two hours before Ovi’s goal, so it’s time to be afraid of May’s hockeybrain.
Man, the Caps are not making it easy for us. These OT games are fun, but they’re also white-knuckle vasoconstricting mammajammas. Still, it’s probably good to make every game a high-pitched struggle that takes until the final tick to resolve. Like dogs slobbering before the dinner bell, maybe the Caps will respond to long hockey games by playing with leg-moving urgency throughout. Sustain that intensity for the full duration, knowwhatImean?
Who’s next? Senators? Who cares? This game was a monster, and the Caps are 3 and 0. Let’s take a day off and regroup on Saturday for hockey with some team from somewhere.
Let’s leave you with this image and remind you of a date: December 1st.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg, warden of the #fancystats.
UPDATE: From Dave Molinari:
Asham: Gestures after fight “uncalled for” and “kind of classless on my part.”
Everybody screws up, but it’s just the good people who apologize for it. Maybe we give Asham a mulligan on this one?