Photo: Gregory Shamus
I pity people who can’t get up for a Penguins-Capitals game. I know intellectually that these games last just as long as a normal game and they have all the same rules and stuff, but it always feels to me like more happens when the Pens and the Caps face off. Maybe I’m just saying that because I didn’t have to watch the last one live or recap it. And maybe that’s why I was so optimistic heading into Thursday’s faceoff in Pittsburgh. The Capitals seemed to have mended their game during five-on-five, and it’s not like Oates gives his fourth line and bottom D-pair enough ice time to ruin games.
Brooks Laich puts some hard work in to a hang a shorty on the Penguins in the first period. Kris Letang tied it up at the halfway point with a four-on-two rush that deflected off Carlson’s and Backstrom’s sticks. Jason Chimera took the lead back by finishing off a great tic-tac-toe from Orlov and Johansson. Taylor Pyatt snapped us back to a tie a minute and a half later.
Alex Ovechkin exploited some chaos during four-on-four to rip home his 34th, but this game was incapable of being easy so Jussi Jokinen got a tap-in from the back door. The Penguins confounded the Caps in their own zone to get the lead with under two minutes left courtesy of Olli Maata. Ovi broke all of the sticks and it was over.
Pens beat Caps 4-3.
- The Capitals were pretty solid (except for the usual suspects). The Capitals had the puck a lot during evens, especially in the middle frame, and they put MAF through his paces at times.
- In lieu of a replay, let’s use our words to praise the Jason Chimera goal. Things To Like About That One: i) Good ice for once, ii) Orlov reading the play, iii) Mojo’s perfect pass , iv) Chimera crashed the net. That version of the third line has been pretty bad, but that play is better than bad. It’s good.
- After the Pyatt goal, Pierre McGuire said, “Anything you can do [awkward pause while he realizes he shouldn’t just say the Penguins are better in the first person], I can do [Awkward pause as everyone temporarily realizes that this is a professional broadcaster on a national network and they should be ashamed].”
- Why did Caps management think Connor Carrick and John Erskine were ready for these assignments? Erskine, whose number-one job is to physically move guys out of the crease, did nothing to stop Taylor Pyatt from tying it up in the second. Wilson and Volpatti were also on the ice, so that’s 4/5ths of the very worst talent the Caps could offer. Plus Nick Backstrom, who had some really unfortunate deployments tonight.
- Because yeah, Backstrom was also out for Jokinen gimme goal– which was made possible by some very Hersheyian defense by young Mr. Carrick. Work the phones, George!
- Mike Green got busted for a Charmin soft trip on Evgeni Malkin. I’m not sure Green even touched the guy. That was a bad whsitle, but Malkin made everything even stephen with a marginal interference counter-hit on Brooks Laich a couple ticks later. Laich got a bit lippy with the Penguins bench after that, but it must not have been too bad. Whenever he speaks, the audio drops out and I just hear “handsome handsome brooks brothers handsome rockingchaircarvedoutofasinglepieceofdriftwood handsome musky odor handsome.”
- Alex Ovechkin looked like he enjoyed this one. He shared the ice with Crosby way more than I though he would, and he did pretty darn well with it. He even stole a Crosby pass at one point (yeah, I was watching it really close). After appearing to injure his leg at the end of the first, Ovechkin missed exactly zero shifts and eventually scored number 34 of the year during some four-on-four action in the third period. Here’s how your boy John Walton called it:
- I’ll keep this one short. I wanna know what you think and I don’t wanna prejudice you: Is Brooks Laich back?
No Joe B suit of the night because Dick Ebersol hates Joe B or something. I wouldn’t wear Doc Emrick’s suit to the pool.
Playing well and losing anyway? The Caps are the 2013 Leafs in reverse. No, really. The Caps played another good game and got burned. Why? The Pens got some lucky goals (Letang’s) and some skill ones (Maata’s). The Caps had a superb PK (shorty city) and made the Pens pay for going four-on-four (Ovi’s). Neither team had a convincing puck-possession advantage. A well played game against a great team.
The difference? Depth. Without Erskine’s statue impersonation, Carrick’s inexperience, and Volpatti’s purposelessness floating, this would’ve been a convincing win over the beast of the East.
This loss hurts, but the Caps can still become a good team.
The Caps can still become a good team.
The Caps can still become a good team.