Capitals 2, Penguins 6
Scoresheet - Times - Post
The Pittsburgh Penguins dominance finally caught up with the Capitals and their rookie goaltender. Out shot for the seventh game in a row, the Caps just could not keep the dam from breaking and they end their season in one of their worst games of the entire season. It's not exactly how the Caps envisioned game seven, in their building with some momentum from game six. But they end up getting routed 6-2.
Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich both scored for the Capitals. But there wasn't much good to talk about any of the players performances. Ovi had a early first period breakaway that was stonewalled by Marc-Andre Fleury who came up with the only hard save of the night to keep the game tied. But after the 8 minute mark of the first period, the Capitals could do no right.
"Every time we touched the puck it would explode," Brian Pothier said. "Every time they touched the puck it was a goal. It was just crazy, you have these nights in the regular season, but I have never seen this in the playoffs in a game seven."
It is a terrible way for the Caps to end their season. When everything looked as if it were on the up and up, a two game series lead on the Pens, the Caps crash and burn. They played 14 games in just two rounds. They certainly will not use it as an excuse, or go into detail, but their top performers were hurt.
At his post game press conference Bruce Boudreau was asked if Mike Green was hurt. "Yup." And Ovi? "Yup."
When asked why Green didn't play in the third, Boudreau chalked it up to his poor play. "He puts too much pressure on himself," Boudreau said. Green would finish this series with out a goal, and was a minus three for tonight's game (the Caps' worst).
"You've got to be ready every night," Boudreau said. "It's the playoffs, and if you put yourself in position like this, eventually you're not going to win games."
The Capitals really can't call the end to their season, as a whole, a disappointment. To be routed at home in game seven is a hard pill to swallow, but the Caps have had more than enough to celebrate than be discouraged by for their '08-'09 campaign.
"We made it further than we did last year," Chris Clark said. "We're one step closer to where we want to be, obviously it's disappointing not to get to the next round."
Semyon Varlamov definitely looked human, although the Caps didn't give him much protection. Forwards didn't back check and the defensemen continued to make poor reads on the Penguins' offense. When the Pens opened the scoring early in the second to make it 3-0, Boudreau said Varly's attitude looked "deflated" and considered taking him out then. But after the fourth goal, "It took the wind out of his sails," said Boudreau.
Jose Theodore, who had been shelved since his rocky start in the New York series came in relief. He would allow another two goals after a bad defensive series in front of him and the other on a Sidney Crosby break away after all four penalty killers were caught in deep in the Pens' zone.
The Caps had to deal with the Pens excellent puck control. As the game wore on the Penguins would not relent. The Caps just had to take their lumps and kiss their season good-bye. The Pens came in to the phone booth and did what they had to do.
Needless to say the mood in the locker room following the loss was one of shock (almost disbelief) and deflation. The players that did address the media following the game were Ovi, Pothier, Clark, Tom Poti, Brooks Laich and Matt Bradley. Ovechkin actually stayed in his locker stall and answered every one of the reporters' questions as did Pothier and Clark.
The Penguins deserve a ton of credit as well. They came out ready to play. Crosby had a pair of goals, while Fleury came up with the saves he needed. Their forecheck was relentless all night. That was a product of their focus and hard work.
I caught up with Tyler Kennedy in the hallway and asked if they had any preference of either Boston or Carolina in the next round.
"It doesn't matter," Kennedy said. "They are all good teams from here on out."
The way the Caps ended their season hurts, there is no doubt about that. But the Caps have a good future ahead of them. There will be a time for more questions about that future and what the Caps expect to get done in the off season. But for tonight it's a somber D.C.