Capitals 4, Penguins 3
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Pitt Gaz
To be honest, I was pretty concerned for the Capitals in this one when they fell 3 - 0. The Penguins are a team that don't surrender leads all that much, except for tonight. Three unanswered third period goals do the Pens in as the Capitals win their first game against Pittsburgh when Marc-Andre Fluery was in net. And on the road no less.
Jose Theodore looked a bit shaky in the start, but the Caps more than make up for it in the third. Tomas Fleischmann (got the red hard hat for his goal and assist), Alex Semin (his fourth), Micheal Nylander (game-tying goal) and Boyd Gordon (his first and the game winner) all scored for the Caps. Eric Fehr, in his first game this year, played huge getting two assists. Ovi did not get on the score sheet, but he was an impact player that finished with a +2 rating. Crosby finished a -3.
The Caps looked a bit out of their element early. Shaky goaltending and some bad penalties got them behind the eight ball in a hurry. The Pens jumped out to a three to nothing lead. All three Penguins' goals were on the power play and they took a 3-1 lead into the locker room after the second period.
Evgeni Malkin and Ovechkin were on a tear all evening long, both were going out of their way to put the hit on one another. These guys really don't like each other, and the antics seemed to work in the Penguins favor as Ovi was kept off the score sheet and Malkin had a goal and two assists. But the Capitals found a way back.
The Capitals special teams were abysmal. The penalty kill allowed three goals while the Caps failed to convert any power play tallies. Credit the Pens though, they did take advantage of the Capitals penalties and played an aggressive PK. In the third the Caps stayed clean and out of the box.
The game turned physical quickly as both sides went at each other. With the Capitals down 3-1, Matt Bradley (the resident tough guy in Donald Brashear's absence) picked a fight with Paul Bissonnette. It's a fight I think Brads would like to have back. He was caught off guard with a few jabs and then Bissonnette landed one that had Brads down and out, cut and bleeding badly in the mouth. Bradley would leave the game for a short time but would return and make his way on the ice in the third. The Caps seemed to rally after Brads efforts.
Tom Poti was also injured leaving the game with a groin pull, he did not return. Sergei Fedorov came to the rescue replacing Poti on the blue line and the Caps benefited from the change. The smooth skating Fedorov seemed to calm things down.
Theodore may have started a bit off, but he did come up with some pretty big saves. The first goal he gave up just looked as if he was stuck between whether to get up or stay in the butterfly. The other two goals were not his fault, just really bad penalty killing by the Capitals.
Once the Capitals had their game on, which was almost the entire third period, they looked unstoppable. They had the Pens scrambling and making bad plays to get the puck out of the zone. Crosby himself was guilty of a behind the back pass to no one that lead to a goal. The Capitals out shot the Pens 21 to 6 in the third period.
While it's unorthodox, the Caps have found ways to win. The battles this team has faced to make the playoffs last year has allowed this team to grow and find a way to get it done. While it isn't a perfect win, I am sure the Caps will take it. At the end of the game, Crosby took a shot at Ovechkin who was looking to score on the empty net. The two had words all the way to the locker room. This is turning into a pretty heated rivalry indeed.
Video highlights courtesy of NHL.com: