Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Washington Capitals has always been a big game on the schedule. Ever since Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin came into the league people have been excited. On Jan 11th, 2017 it would be no different. NBC rivalry night would feature two of the hottest superstars and teams. These two not surprisingly are a couple of the best teams in the league and will likely battle each other in the Stanely Cup playoffs. This second game in 2017 would probably be a hotly contested affair as both teams come in with exactly 57 points and both on long winning streaks
The Pens come off a dominating victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. Just about everyone with the skating Penguin on their chest had a point in their 6-2 win was their 5th in a row.
For the Caps they come in winning 6 in a row. Alex Ovechkin came in looking for his 1000th point in the NHL. You know there is not another team he would rather do it against than the Penguins. The Caps just came off a 4-1 victory over the Canadians the other night and had been playing some solid hockey
In net for the Caps would be Braden Holtby and for the Pens Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.
Alex Ovechkin (20) would score to get the Caps up 1-0 early in the game. That lead would hold through the 1st period.
In the 2nd period Ovechkin (21) would strike again to give the Caps a 2-0 lead this time on the power play.
Again just one goal would take place in the 2nd period.
Justin Willaims (12) would stake the Caps to a 3-0 lead early in the 3rd before Evgeni Malkin (17) would get the Pens on the board on the power play to make it 3-1.
Nicklas Backstrom (11) would pop on in on the Caps PP to make the score 4-1 Caps and help regain the three-goal leads.
Patric Hornqvist (10) rounded out the scoring for the Pens again on the power play to make it 4-2 but then Lars Eller (4) deposited the puck into an empty Penguins net for the final goal and the 5-2 Capitals win.
Sitting on the edge of a milestone coming in Alex Ovechkin wasted no time getting going in this matchup. His play in this one was on point, and just 35 seconds into the game his wrister beat Fleury to make it 1-0. His 10000th point was vintage Ovie.
Coming down the wing in almost a two on one Ovie toe dragged the puck towards his body and then let loose a wrist shot that MAF had no chance to stop. Dirty Caps and caveman Ovie had a 1-0 lead.
Simply put you cannot let a sniper like Ovechkin walk into that slot position and expect him to miss the shot.
The Caps 2nd goal was again Ovie camped in a great shooting spot on the power play. John Carlson laid out a perfect pass right in Ovechkin’s wheelhouse, and he got all of the one-time slap shot and just whistled it past Fleury. Giving that kind of shooting lanes is going to spell disaster for you against good teams.
Heading to the third the Caps had the dreaded 2-0 lead. That is until Evgeny Kuznetsov took almost a complete lap in the Penguins offensive zone. Holding the puck, he fought off a couple of Pens and then looked to be going around the net.
Instead of circling, he wound around backward and threw the puck in front to Williams who slid it under MAF for a three-goal Caps lead.
Malkin would make his best Ovie impression and get the Pens on the board with a slick power play tally. Similar to the 2nd Ovechkin goal, Justin Schultz made a perfect pass down low in the circle and Malkin was able to one-time the shot past Holtby before he could even react.
Cutting the lead again to 2 would not last long through.
Once more on the power play, a brilliant pass by Carlson resulted in a Caps goal. Carlson made an 80-foot pass from his end to TJ Oshie right as he entered the Penguins zone. Oshie looked up and found a cutting Backstrom. He got behind the Penguins defense and outwaited Fleury and threw the puck into an open cage. 4-1 Caps with very little time left.
The Pens would tally one more goal on the power play when Sidney Crosby found a wide open Hornquist on the back door. All he had to do was redirect the Crosby feed into the net for an easy goal. 4-2 Caps but it would be too little too late.
Lars Eller would find the empty net as his shot ricocheted off the helmet of Letang and into the empty net. The Caps win 5-2 in dominating fashion.
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The Capitals are the one team that scares me in a matchup with the Penguins. First, they are a good team, and it’s hard to beat a good team in the playoffs each year continually. Second I think they are capable of playing a style that gives the Penguins problems. They can hit and take the body. But also have the ability to score goals with all of their offensive talent. And Holtby is a goalie who can get hot.
Very rarely does Ovie get the best of Sid? Tonight he did, and it was the difference. The issue here is that this is some meaningless game in January. I don’t know many people who think Ovechkin can do this in the playoffs.
Power play madness, Caps 2/4, Pens 2/5. These two teams have so much talent on offense that if you start going to the penalty box, it most likely will end up in a high scoring affair. Several of the goals scored featured such a high level of skill.
Capitals were way better in the faceoff circle. One of those things that over a playoff series could tip a game in the Caps favor.
Holtby is on fire, has given up just two goals in his last four games. Typical Caps through to be playing so well in January instead of May.
Penguins: Away vs. the Ottawa Senators (21-14-4) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.ET