(Photo credit: Rob Carr)
A few years ago, the Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins rivalry was the NHL’s top draw. Led by the league’s best players, the teams spawned epic playoff series and fantastic regular season games. Eventually, though, Sidney Crosby got hurt and Alex Ovechkin got stale. For the past couple seasons, Caps-Pens has been a bit hollow.
This year, however, Ovi vs. Sid is relevant again: Crosby came into the game tied for the league lead in points, Ovechkin was tied for the lead in goals. Wednesday, the Caps were just one point behind the Pens for the Metropolitan division lead. With NBC in town, the good old days of the late ’00s were back — even if Brooks Laich didn’t give a crap.
Unfortunately, the game was less Snovechkin and more 2009 Semifinals game seven.
Paul Martin put the Pens up early through a screen that make Braden Holtby look foolish. Rejected Gossip Girl character Beau Bennett stretched the lead to two on a two-on-four — yes two-on-four — for Pittsburgh midway through the first. The second frame was utterly boring until ya boy Sidney Crosby unleashed an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot on the power play to put the Pens up by three. James Neal added another in the third.
Worst. Pens Blank Caps 4-0.
- Not much point in singling out individual performances by the Caps tonight. The whole team was awful.
- Via Extra Skater, this is what the shot attempts looked like after one. Ouch.
- Despite facing a bunch of shots, the first two goals Holtby allowed were weak. Bray Bray, though, has been excellent this year so he deserves some slack. All in all, not the reason the Caps lost. He made 36 saves in the loss.
- With Mike Green missing his third game in a row, John Carlson manned the point on the power play again. JCar struggled, fumbling the puck a couple times and failing to connect with open men. Despite Greenie’s lack of goals, his presence is greatly missed in the lineup. Washington’s man advantage until is now a pathetic second place in the NHL.
- This was probably the low point of the night.
- The possession numbers for the third pairing of Alexander Urbom and Steve Oleksy were biblically awful. The second line also stunk. Surprise, surprise!
- Good news for my fantasy team (Team Sexy Legs), bad news for everybody else: Sid had a great night, registering an assist on Martin’s goal and sniping in a sublime shot on the power play. He now takes the league lead in points. The dude’s mustache sucks, but his resurgence — along with Ovechkin’s — is good for hockey.
- But seriously, his mustache sucks.
- The Pens outshot the Caps 40-17. Washington had just 10 shots 5-on-5. Wow.
I may not have actually seen Sunday’s game — it’s a long story involving fire and Times Square — but the Caps have been playing good hockey as of late. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights. Washington faced a tough divisional rival, a great judge of the team’s standing in the conference. The Caps could have moved into first place in the Metro. They crapped the bed. Oh well. Habs on Friday. Pete will be back with you.