The series has moved to Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh all tied up 1-1 after Eric Fehr dispatched the Caps in Game Two at Verizon Center. The Caps are going to have to win a game in Pittsburgh, a place where they went 1-1 during the regular season, if they want to see the Eastern Conference Final.
Tonight, the curtain drops in Pittsburgh for Game Three. The series is tied at 1-1, and it’s evident that the Capitals must play the hockey. After getting dominated by the Pens in Game Two, the Caps hope to bounce back in essentially every aspect of their play. (Except for you, Braden Holtby. We heart you forever.)
Puck drop is at 8 PM from Consol Energy Center, whose namesake’s stock is finally trading up. NBCSN with da coverage.
For 30 minutes a crowd of reporters and cameramen stood in front of the white board in the Capitals locker room at CONSOL Energy Center. Numerous players entered the room and went to their stalls after Washington’s morning skate on Monday, but the assembled media stayed right where they were, waiting for Brooks Orpik to address the three game suspension levied by the NHL for his late hit to the head on Olli Maatta. Finally, after everyone else was already off the ice, Orpik walked into room, took off his equipment, and walked in front of the lights. While the rest of Capitals defended Orpik or refused to comment earlier, the offender made no excuses.
“I think it was fair,” Orpik said of the punishment given to him by the league’s Department of Player Safety. “It was a bad hit. It was intended to be a hard hit, definitely not at his head, but I don’t think there is anything that you can argue that it was definitely late. I think that was pretty black and white. I said that during my hearing yesterday.”
During the first intermission of Game Two, Milbury, who has always been a lightning rod for controversy, called Orpik a “predator,” implying that the Caps defenseman was looking to injure Maatta. Orpik and Maatta are friends off the ice.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen RMNB t-shirts literally everywhere as the Capitals try to march deep into the postseason. We’ve seen them in our Twitter mentions, in our Instagram tags, at Kettler, and at our local Frederick Wegmans. Basically, you guys are insane people and we love you for it.
We were thinking as a group on how to thank you. And this was what we came up with: MAKE MOAR SHIRTS.
On Sunday night, as Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks played Game Two of their second round series, the NHL turned the attention of hockey world elsewhere, suspending Capitals defensemen Brooks Orpik three games for his high, head-hunting hit on the Penguins’ Olli Maatta on Saturday. The suspension is the third doled out by the league’s Department of Player Safety this postseason. All have been for incidents that occurred in Capitals games, but this was the first suspension levied on Washington. Given the recklessness of the hit, the team knew this was coming.
“I’m sure everyone’s planning for him not to be in the lineup,” Daniel Winnik said at a media availability the team held here in Pittsburgh before the suspension was announced.
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.”