Behind some incredible defensive play, the Pittsburgh Penguins stole home ice from the Capitals with a 2-1 Game 2 victory.
Ex-Penguin Brooks Orpik certainly doesn’t have any love for his old club, as he caused the first power play of the game at the 4:13 mark with a serious interference penalty against Olli Maatta. The hit seemed to be directed towards Maatta’s head and was severe enough to leave him dazed and require a Pittsburgh trainer to help him to the dressing room, but he only served two minutes in the box, which the Capitals‘ penalty kill easily neutralized. Maatta did not return to the ice.
The other infraction of the period belonged to Ben Lovejoy, as he was found guilty of a slashing penalty on Evgeny Kuznetsov with 3:31 remaining in the frame. Just like Washington, the Penguins‘ penalty kill was up to the task and kept the game scoreless.
Although they were unable to score, the Pens seemed to win the first period, as they almost tripled Washington‘s shot production (14 to five, respectively). That being said, the Capitals absolutely owned the face-off dot, winning 70% of restarts.
1:20 after returning to the ice, Kuznetsov was caught holding Matt Cullen, but once again the Penguins‘ power play yielded nothing.
Carl Hagelin finally scored the first goal of Game 2 at the 7:08 mark. His wrister, which he fired from point blank over First Star of the Game Braden Holtby’s glove hand, was assisted by Nick Bonino from behind the net (his seventh of the postseason) and Ian Cole.
Not only was it the first goal of the game, but it was also the lone tally of the frame. Once again, the Pens led the Caps in shots, 14 to five, but they still had yet to connect on any of their five power plays. Washington still maintained the lead in hits (23 to 14), as well as face-off wins (25 to 20).
2:56 after returning to the ice, Kris Letang earned a trip to the penalty box for tripping Nicklas Backstrom. 1:12 later, Washington leveled with a Marcus Johansson power play wrister, assisted by John Carlson (his fifth playoff helper) and Kuznetsov.
With 4:28 remaining in regulation, Second Star Eric Fehr, an ex-Capital, gave the Penguins the go-ahead goal on a tip-in of Evgeni Malkin’s initial shot. He was also assisted by Chris Kunitz.
Washington‘s most significant offensive threats occurred in the third period, but Matt Murray stood tall to level the series at one-all. Letang deserves special credit for the victory, as his five blocks led a team that held Washington to only 24 shots on goal.
Murray earns the victory after saving 23 of 24 shots faced (95.8%), while Holtby takes the loss after saving 33 of 35 (94.3%).
Game 3 will be Monday at 8 p.m. eastern in Pittsburgh. It can be viewed on CBC, NBCSN or TVAS.
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