GameTwoPensGoal

Photo: Drew Hallowell

The Capitals were the league’s best team in the regular season. They ran over their opponents, winning the Presidents’ Trophy by 11 points. Their goal differential was plus-59, powered by deadly power play, a stifling penalty kill, the league’s best goalie, and solid five-on-five play.

In the postseason, however, they’ve often been lucky rather than good, winning their first round series with a major assist from self-inflected wounds by the Philadelphia Flyers. Now the Caps have run into run into the hottest team in the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve been outplayed in the first two games of the second round, but head to Pittsburgh with a split series due to an impressive individual performance by TJ Oshie in Game One.

“We have to show more inspiration, especially against this kind of team,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “We’ve got play better. We’ve got to be more aggressive. We’ve got the shoot the puck more.”

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#CapsFilmRoom: Goals Against from Game Two

Fehr Goal

Game Two was unsuccessful to say the least. The Capitals struggled through two periods of play, committed penalty after penalty in the second (though maybe some were undeserved), and lost the game off the stick of an old ally turned foe. So, let’s engage in the oldest pastime known to sports: assigning blame.

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EricFehrGoal

Photo: Drew Hallowell

Eric Fehr spent nine years with the Washington Capitals. He was twice a hero in the Winter Classic, scoring two goals in 2011’s rain-soaked epic in Pittsburgh and once in Washington’s late third period thriller in 2015. He wanted to stay with the Capitals, knowing they had a chance at the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. But the Capitals spent their money elsewhere and Fehr joined the rival Penguins on a three year contract. Now, on a Saturday night in May, he put a dent in the same Washington champion hopes he once held, tipping a puck past Caps goalie Braden Holtby in the third period to break a 1-1 tie in Game Two and send the series back to Pittsburgh on an even footing.

“That one’s right up there,” Fehr said after the game. “To score in the second round like that and get our team a split in this rink I think is pretty special.”

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kuznetsov-interference

The Capitals lost Game Two to the Penguins 2-1. Late in the second period, the Capitals tied the game… or so we thought. The Caps and Pens scrummed in front of the net, then the puck bounced out to Nate Schmidt, who roofed it. Washington’s players on the ice celebrated, Verizon Center lost its collective mind, and the official waved it off.

Instead of a goal, the Caps got a penalty: Evgeny Kuznetsov for goalie interference. Barry Trotz was furious, demanding an explanation as the Verizon Center crowd erupted in a “Ref, you suck!” chant.

Let’s take a closer look at this pivotal moment.

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steps-celebration

Photo: @PowerMove6687

The Pittsburgh Penguins mud-stomped the Washington Capitals in Game Two, so of course the visiting fans celebrated from the steps of the National Gallery. Without tradition our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.

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john-carlson-big-hit-crosby

Late in the third period, John Carlson caught Sidney Crosby with his head down, trying to control a bobbling puck in the neutral zone. Carly stepped up and put his shoulder into Crosby, sending the 2007 MVP careening hard into the ice and boards.

The Verizon Center crowd roared.

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Rock the Red Wedding: Penguins beat Caps 2-1

barry-trotz-flips-off-pierre-mcguire

That was brutal. The Washington Capitals played badly and poorly against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Two. I mean poorly in the sense that they did not perform well. I mean badly in the sense that they did some stuff that wasn’t exactly gallant. And yet, thanks to the singularly stellar performance of a certain Saskatchewanian stud in net, the Caps kept the score close.

The Penguins had little to show for their possession dominance until Nick Bonino won a board battle and set up Carl Hagelin for the opening goal.

In the third, Marcus Johansson, that notorious softy, tied the game with a power play goal earned from the paint. But with five minutes left, former Capital Eric Fehr caught a puck from Evgeni Malkin and tapped home the game-winner.

Pens beat Caps 2-1. The series is tied 1-1.

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marcus-johansson-ppg

The Washington Capitals have struggled to generate offense in Game Two. But late in the third period, they hit the back of the net thanks to their lethal power play.

Marcus Johansson scored his second goal of the postseason after some great work in front of the net.

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karl-alzner-pierre-mcguire

Midway through the (unspeakably horrible) second period, Karl Alzner made a shift change. It wasn’t an ordinary shift change. Alzner jumped Inside The Glass™ with Pierre McGuire, which is never a thing you want to do.

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Brooks Orpik Checks Olli Maatta in the Head

maatta

Brooks Orpik had missed a few playoff games due to injury, possibly a concussion. Now back on active duty, Orpik put a headshot on Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maata, who has his own history with head injuries.

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