|(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)|
Brooks Laich scores for the second straight game. His first period goal would stand as the game winner. Marcus Johansson had a beauty of a back hand that fluttered past Marc-Andre Fleury. Mike Knuble would put the icing on the cake with the empty netter.
Two players that did not score a goal stood out as the best players in the game. Matt Hendricks and Alex Ovechkin. Hendricks continues to impress as a Capital. This guy does a little bit of everything, add an offensive threat, play solid defensively as he dives to block shots, and is not shy of dropping the gloves. He would even defer on the empty net shot to pass it to the Caps' elder Knuble. Respect your elders.
Ovechkin was a monster and did everything in this game except get on the scoresheet. His outside threat seemed to keep the Penguins off kilter and it sparked the later lines to match the intensity he had. He brought his hitting machine, often taking the physical route against the Pens' defense. Ovi had three shots, three hits, one blocked shot and a take away.
It would be the Capitals defense that would shine in the shut out of the Penguins. With out Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins looked to use their speed to try and catch the Caps' defense flat footed. But the Capitals kept the play to the outside, stepped into shooting lanes (blocking 18 shots), and moving the puck effectively out of the zone.
On the other end, the Caps funneled shots to the net and it payed off. The first goal of the game started with a keep in by John Erskine, then some good sustained pressure in the Pens' zone. Mathieu Perreault would have a sneaky take away and find Erskine who shot it on net. The puck got through to Fleury and the rebound was swept under the Pens' goaltender by a charging Laich.
It looked like it was going to be a physical game, but not a dirty one. But the Caps would get into a little penalty trouble later in the second period when Matt Hendricks was shoved into Fleury and the officials called him for goaltender interference. The penalty would wash out a Johansson goal, but he would make it up later.
|(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)|
The Capitals did not seem satisfied with that score. They kept the offensive pressure up while keeping the shots down for Neuvirth. The Penguins could only manage 7 shots in the final period.
The win did not come with out cost. Mike Green took a high slapper from Brooks Orpik in the right ear in the fading seconds of the first period. He was cut badly and would leave the game. Knuble would be cut from an errant high stick. He would finish the rest of the game with a nasty gash on his cheek and nose. Even though he was a bloody mess, he did manage the goal on the empty net from the red line.
Ovechkin was caught with a knee on knee hit by Matt Cooke. Cooke argued that Ovi made the move to avoid the hit, but it looked like he was going to hit Ovechkin with whatever body part he could on him.
The Capitals' power play did not convert. They played with some familiar swagger and they did get their chances. Playing one of the league's best penalty kills, the power play did its job which was gain some momentum and keep the other team on their heels. They often found chances after the power play had ended, a sign they were keeping the pressure on Pittsburgh.
Now the Caps face a slew of Western Conference teams as their next two foes at the phone booth will be San Jose on Tuesday and Los Angeles on Saturday. Then they head out on their western swing playing their first three games of a five game road trip against Phoenix, Anaheim and see the Sharks again. Their five game road trip will end with a back to back game with Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
- The Capitals will stay three points behind Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division as they beat the St. Louis Blues today in overtime.
- Alex Semin was rumored to be in the line up on Friday against the Lightning but he didn't make the trip to Florida. He would not dress for the game against Pittsburgh.
- Neuvirth was given the game's first star followed by Laich with the second and Johansson with the third star.