Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Washington Capitals for the second time in just under a week hoped to provide hockey fans with another hotly contested battle. Before reading any further, go to NHL.com and watch the 2nd-period highlights, nothing short of amazing.
Caps vs. Pens is always a treat, but this one had some extra special spice to it. The circumstances coming into this one vs. last Wednesday are slightly different, though.
The Pens are reeling on their longest losing streak of the year started by losing a game to these Capitals. To further complicate matters Kris Letang is out for what could be an extended period after hurting his knee in the 6-3 loss to Detroit.
Pittsburgh recalled Jake Guentzel and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel for this one with Letang on the shelf. The hope is that these young guys can get the Pens out of the slight funk they have been in the last few games.
Washington on anything but a funk right now. Their winning streak has continued since they battled the Penguins last week. Winners of 9 in a row the Capitals have jumped to the top of the Metropolitan Division. It seems just about everyone in this division is destined to go on a big streak.
The Caps floored the Flyers 5-0 on Sunday and hoped to continue their hot play against the Pens in this one.
In net for the Caps would be Braden Holtby and Matt Murray for the Penguins.
Even the short version of the scoring in this one would be long.
The Capitals would again jump on the Pens in this one with Andre Burakovsky (7) scoring to give the Caps the lead.
It would be 2-0 after one period as Nicklas Backstrom (13) would score with just under 3 minutes left in the 2nd.
Starting the 2nd Justin Williams (15) would make it 3-0 Caps.
Evgeni Malkin (19), Conor Sheary (12) and Nick Bonino (7) would score consecutively to make a new game and tie it at 3.
Bryan Rust (11) would bank one in off Holtby to make it 4-3 Pens still in the second period.
Another goal by Malkin (20) would give the Pens a two-goal lead after trailing by 3.
Washington would answer with goals by Brett Connolly (7) and a short-handed marker by Lars Eller (5)
Malkin (21) would complete the hat trick to give the Pens a 6-5 lead on the power play.
Starting the third Crosby (27) would make it 7-5 Pens, but before too long the Capitals would tie on goals by TJ Oshie (15) and Eller (6) and send the game to OT.
In overtime Sheary (13) would score to give the Pens an exciting 8-7 OT win!
Washington would continue to dominate their opponents in this one as the game started. They wasted little time jumping out in front of the Penguins. Seven minutes in Burakovsky would find himself wide open in front of the Penguins net, and he would not miss.
Daniel Winnik would dig the puck out from the corner as he took on two Penguins defenseman. When he centered to Burakovsky wide open right in front of Murray, it was just a formality that the puck went in. 1-0 Capitals on a bang-bang play.
With just under 3 minutes left in the 1st, the Capitals would again strike. Two Penguin players would again be bested by 1 Capital forward. This time it was Alex Ovechkin winning the battle.
Ovechkin’s feed out front would be gathered by Backstrom, and he would immediately fire a wrist shot over the glove hand of Murray to make it 2-0. The Caps strong play would just continue as they took a 2-0 lead into the 2nd.
Despite shots being 11-11 after one period, the Capitals had taken the play to the Pens. That would not change early in the 2nd.
Justin Williams would take a center ice feed from Evgeny Knutetsov and come in one on one against the Pens Ian Cole. Williams would make a little deke around Cole and then rifle a shot past Murray to push the lead to 3-0.
All looked lost for the Pens, but Patrick Hornqvist seemed to change that. After mixing it up with several Capitals, the Pens would look to gain a little momentum.
It was a play that wasn’t a score or pass, but guys like Hornqvist make and cannot be understated how important that stuff is
Four on four Malkin would deliver to get the Pens back in it. Right before the goal Phil Kessel missed a tap-in chance that seemed to spell doom for the Pens.
He set himself up in the circle and took the cross-ice feed from Trevor Daley and bury one past Holtby. Malkin would again drop to one knee and fire the one-timer past the Caps goalie to cut into the Caps lead and give Pens the life they needed.
Not even a minute late Conor Sheary would get the Pens within 1 goal. Just an absolute beauty of passing put on by the Pens on goal number 2.
Sherry would fire a breakout pass to Crosby who found Daley joining the play. Sid would drop the pass and then Daley would go back to Sid. In a play that Sid makes so easy, he found a tiny gap between the hand and stick of Karl Alzner and hit Sheary right on the tape.
Sheary would simply redirect the puck past Holtby to get the Pens to within one goal and the momentum clearly shifted to the home team.
A little more than a minute later we would have a brand new game as the Penguins tied the score at 3.
Justin Schultz would fire one towards the net and almost like a soccer player Bonino would chest it down and bang home the loose mail past Holtby. Just like that, the Penguins would be right back in it.
Three goals in just 2 minutes and 27 seconds would make this one go from a laugher to a close battle.
Pittsburgh would not be done scoring. This no doubt was one of the most exciting period of Penguin hockey in a long time.
Holby’s stick would get tied up on this goal, and this would lead to another Pen goals. As the Penguins fired a few bad angle shots, Rust grabbed the biscuit behind the net, and his centering pass would deflect off the foot of Ovechkin and into the Capitals goal.
Just as you can blink the 3-0 deficit would become a 4-3 lead.
Again, Pittsburgh would score very quickly to go up 5-3. To quote Mike Lange, Braden Holtby would not know whether to cry to wind his watch.
A centering feed by Jake Guentzel would come in on Holtby. Before he could freeze it, Malkin would poke the puck loose and past the Caps net minder. 5-3 Pittsburgh the PPG paints Arena was in a frenzy.
Like boxers trading punches the Capitals would not slow down. 30 second’s after the Pens grabbed the two-goal advantage Brett Connelly would score to make it 5-4.
A shot pass from Taylor Chorney would be put in by Connelly. Murray was there for the save by Connelly fanned on the play, and it looked to throw off Murray just slightly. The puck deflected off him and in.
Surprise here, but the Capitals would tie up the game on a short-handed tally by Lars Eller. His took a centering feed from Nate Schmidt after TJ Oshie made a nice play at center ice to start the play.
Ellers goal would knot the game at 5-5.
25 seconds later Malkin would cash in for the hat trick. A complete scrum in front of the net would have players scrambling around the goal.
Malkin would find the puck thought the mayhem and push it into the Caps net for a 6-5 Penguins lead and the hats poured onto the ice at PPG Paints.
The Capitals would challenge on the count of goalie interference, but the goal would stand, and Malkin’s hat trick remained.
Heading into the 3rd period who knows what would be on deck in this wild affair.
At the 14:05 mark, Sidney Crosby would get in on the goal scoring barrage. Bryan Rust took the body on a Caps player, and this led to Sheary getting the puck low in the Capital zone.
He looked up and immediately found Crosby on the back door, and Sid would not miss this one. He buried the cross-ice feed with a wicked one-timer that backup goalie Phillip Gruebauer would have zero chance of stopping.
7-5 Pens with just over 14 minutes left in the game.
Oli Maata would take a penalty, and the Capitals would make them pay. The Puck would deflect own Daley’s foot after a scramble in front and Oshie on the backhand would flip it past Murray who reacted to the puck going the opposite direction.
7-6 Pens with just over 10 minutes left in the game.
Not surprising, in this game of runs, at 5:22 left in the game the Capitals would tie it up.
Murray would stop the initial shot but was unable to keep it in his glove. The puck came free to Lars Eller, and his shot was fired toward Murray. It was heading wide but hit Delays skate and deflected into the Penguins net.
5 minutes left in the game and 14 goals, and nothing is decided at all. The last 5 minutes would be anyone’s guess what would happen.
The game would head to OT to decide a winner.
It would not take long for a winner to be determined. Conor Sheary and Crosby would come in two on one just 30 seconds into the overtime session. Sheary fired a shot instead of passing, and the save was made.
Crosby had set up on the doorstep and caused a commotion, and this allowed Sheary to bang in and push the puck into the net past Gruebauer for the 8-7 Penguins win!
What a night and what a game as the Pens broke the Capitals winning streak with a great performance.
Maybe the most insane period of Penguin hockey in a long time. Against the best defensive team in hockey, the Pens would notch goals 5 in 8 minutes and 9 seconds and would chase Holtby. Do yourself a favor and just go and watch the 2nd period. If you did not see it live because it’s nothing short of amazing. Nine total goals in the period.
Justin Schultz continues to pile up the points with four more helpers. This guy is playing on another planet right now. If I’m Pittsburgh, I get a contract in front of his agent about as fast as I can. Don’t be afraid to pay him, 26 years old and looks to have it figured out.
In a playoff series, the fact that the Penguins can get to Holtby is a big bonus for Pittsburgh. It’s much like how Fleury was early in his career until he overcomes this vs. the Pens he will always be a question mark until he beats them.
Conor Sheary shooting on a two on 1 with Sid shows what makes him a great fit with Sid. So many guys would pass the puck there. You can call me crazy but I think we are going to see an enormous offensive season out of this guy at some point in his career.
Penguins: Away vs. the Montreal Canadians (27-12-6) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.ET