That Sucked: Pens Blank Caps 4-0

sidney-crosby-celebrates

:( (Photo credit: Rob Carr)

Ian Oland birthday card of the night. (Photo credit: Brouwer Rangers)

Ian Oland birthday card of the night. (Photo credit: Brouwer Rangers)

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.

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Everything is Happening! Pens beat Caps 4-3 (OT)

Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

Yawn. These Washington Capitals / Pittsburgh Penguins games are always such tedious affairs. Nothing interesting ever happens.

Okay, but for real. This game was a monster. The Capitals looked wounded in the first period, surrendering easy goals early and firing just four shots on net. They came back in the second transformed and reinvigorated. After Mike Knuble crashed the net and just barely missed a goal, the offense turned on. The Capitals regained the shot lead and kept their foot on the gas until the very end.

No one challenged Kris Letang on the power play, so he had a great lane and great screen on the game’s first goal. James Neal flicked one past Neuvirth right after a face off to make it 2-0. The game was six minutes old.

In the second, Dennis Wideman set up Brooks Laich for a crucial goal during 4-on-4. Alex Semin cleaned up Mathieu Perreault’s rebound to tie the game and blow our freaking minds.

In the third, Alex Ovechkin caught a wide pass from Alex Semin and beat Marc-Andre Fleury to open up a lead. James Neal finished off a brilliant zone entry by Evgeni Malkin to knot the score again. That tie took us all the way into overtime, where Malkin casually tipped in the game-winner. Pens beat Caps 4-3 (OT).

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At the end of the second period between the Capitals and Penguins, Paul Martin seems to say words to Jason Chimera that are supposed to verboten in the new NHL.

Around 2.5 seconds into the video above, Paul Martin appears to call Chimera a derogatory name for a gay man. (Sorry to be so stilted about it, but it’s hard to discuss these things for a wide audience. Plus, there’s no audio, so we can’t be certain.)

Martin started the third period in the penalty box for a slashing penalty that we could not locate.

So if Paul Martin is seen calling another player a [expletive] on national television and the league does nothing about it, then they’re just feckless and craven worms, right?

Reminder: our comment policy is strictly enforced. Be mindful of the difference between “what they did” and “what they are”.

Thank you to @tonytenor1 for pointing this out, and thanks to Peter Robbio for the video.