Tag Archives: Dmitry Orlov

Capitals cap off Round Robin with, 2-1, win against Boston

T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson had the only goals for the Washington Capitals as they beat the Boston Bruins, 2-1, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario in Sunday afternoon’s final Eastern Conference Round Robin matchup.

Braden Holtby (1-1-1 in three games played, 1.98 goals against average, .925 save percentage this postseason) made 30 saves on 31 shots against for the .968 SV% in the win for the Capitals.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (0-2-0 in two games, 2.54 GAA, .917 SV% this postseason) stopped 23 out of 25 shots faced for a .920 SV% in the loss.

Boston fell to 0-3-0 in the Round Robin tournament to determine the seeding for Eastern Conference matchups in the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while Washington improved to finish 1-1-1 in Round Robin action.

As a result, the Caps will face the New York Islanders in the First Round, while the Bruins will square off with the Carolina Hurricanes in a rematch of the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.

Ondrej Kase made his Round Robin debut for Boston in the club’s final matchup before the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing their exhibition meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as their two prior Round Robin matchups with the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Kase joined the team in Toronto a few days after the club arrived in time for Phase 4 of the NHL’s Return to Play plan began.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Jaroslav Halak were all “unfit to participate” in practice on Friday, but rejoined the Bruins at practice on Saturday as expected after B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, tipped his hand to reporters in Friday’s media session.

Cassidy made a few minor changes to his lineup from last Wednesday’s, 3-2, loss to the Lightning to Sunday’s matinee with the Capitals.

Jake DeBrusk returned to the left side of the second line with Krejci at center and Kase on the right wing, while Nick Ritchie was bumped down to the left side on the third line with Charlie Coyle at center and Anders Bjork on the right side.

On defense, Cassidy gave Matt Grzelcyk the afternoon off and slid Jeremy Lauzon in Grzelcyk’s place, while giving time to Connor Clifton on the right side of third defensive pairing.

Boston’s long list of scratches on Sunday included Zach Senyshyn, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Maxime Lagace, Grzelcyk, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Dan Vladar, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman.

Almost midway into the opening frame, the Capitals finally recorded their first shot on goal at 9:09 of the first period after Boston spent much time in their attacking zone.

Moments later, Washington defender, Dmitry Orlov, was penalized for holding Bruins forward, David Pastrnak, and the Bruins went on the power play for the first time of the afternoon at 13:34.

Boston’s power play was powerless as Washington’s penalty kill was dominant and killed off Orlov’s minor.

About a minute after Boston’s skater advantage came to an end, Clifton reacted to a slash from Evgeny Kuznetsov and the two players were sent to the penalty box at 17:11 of the first period– Clifton for cross checking, Kuznetsov for slashing.

After two minutes of 4-on-4 action, the two teams resumed 5-on-5 play and the seconds ticked down towards the first intermission.

Well, they would have anyway, if it weren’t for Oshie’s (1) lucky bounce and ensuing poke check that resulted in a, 1-0, lead for the Caps with 16 seconds remaining in the period.

Rask made the initial save as the puck rebounded off his pad, then deflected off of Zdeno Chara’s stick right within reach of Oshie for the unassisted goal at 19:44.

Washington entered the first intermission with the, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard, despite trailing Boston, 6-2, in shots on goal.

The Capitals held the advantage in blocked shots (8-4) and hits (16-8), while the Bruins led in takeaways (4-2), giveaways (5-3) and faceoff win percentage (63-37) entering dressing room after 20 minutes of action.

The B’s were 0/1 on the power play, while the Caps had yet to be on the advantage heading into the middle frame.

Ilya Kovalchuk kicked off the second period with a hooking infraction against Torey Krug at 2:31 of the middle period, yielding the second power play of the game to the Bruins.

Once more, however, Boston’s power play was ineffective.

Almost midway through the middle frame, Brandon Carlo hooked Jakub Vrana at 7:01 of the second period and presented the Capitals with their first skater advantage of the game.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing power play, however.

A little over eight minutes later, DeBrusk was penalized for holding the stick at 15:29– sending the Capitals on their second power play of the game.

Washington wasn’t able to convert on the skater advantage, though, and play resumed at even strength once Boston’s penalty kill successfully killed off DeBrusk’s minor infraction.

At the end of the period, Sean Kuraly and Oshie got into a bit of a heated exchange that didn’t result in fisticuffs, but yielded matching roughing minor penalties– officially at 20:00 of the second period.

The two teams would start the final frame 4-on-4 for two minutes before resuming 5-on-5 action.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Capitals led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and trailed the Bruins, 16-15, in shots on goal despite holding the advantage in shots on net in the second period alone, 13-10.

Washington also held the advantage in blocked shots (12-8) and hits (22-19), while Boston led in takeaways (8-4), giveaways (13-5) and faceoff win% (61-39).

Both teams were 0/2 on the power play heading into the dressing room for the second intermission.

Washington jumped out to a two-goal lead early in the final frame thanks to Wilson’s (1) quick break into the attacking zone and lob shot over Rask’s glove side from point blank.

Ilya Kovalchuk (1) and Michal Kempny (1) tallied the assists on Wilson’s goal and the Capitals led, 2-0, at 2:49 of the third period.

Almost midway through the third period, Charlie McAvoy tripped up Richard Panik and received a minor penalty for tripping at 7:29, but the Caps didn’t get a power play out of the infraction as Panik was sent to the sin bin as well with an embellishment minor.

After two minutes at 4-on-4, the score remained, 2-0, Capitals and the two teams resumed full strength action.

Just past the midpoint of the third period, however, DeBrusk (1) one-timed a shot through Holtby’s five-hole while crashing the slot after stepping over the puck and receiving the pass from Kase.

Kase (1) and Krejci (1) were credited with the assists and the B’s cut the lead in half, 2-1, at 10:30 of the third period.

After that, nothing else happened.

No goals, no penalties, but a bunch of saves by each goalie.

With one minute remaining in the game, Rask vacated his net for the extra attacker, but even after Boston used their timeout after a stoppage with 34.3 seconds left in regulation, the Bruins couldn’t tie the game and force overtime.

At the final horn, the Capitals had won, 2-1, and finished the afternoon leading in blocked shots (21-14) and hits (31-24).

The Bruins finished the game leading in shots (31-25), giveaways (19-12) and faceoff win% (64-36).

Both teams finished the afternoon 0/2 on the power play.

The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round start Tuesday with the full schedule yet to be announced.

Bruins capitalize on, 7-3, win over Washington

The Boston Bruins routed the Washington Capitals, 7-3, on Monday night at TD Garden after scoring four goals in the first period on 11 shots.

Tuukka Rask (14-4-5 record, 2.32 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 23 games played) turned aside 39 out of 42 shots faced for a .929 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Capitals goaltender, Braden Holtby (17-5-4, 2.87 GAA, .907 SV% in 27 games played) made seven saves on 11 shots against (6.36 SV%) before being replaced after the first period in the loss.

Ilya Samsonov (9-2-1, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV% in 13 games played) stopped three out of four shots faced (.750 SV%) for no decision after replacing Holtby for the final 40 minutes of action on Monday.

Boston improved to 22-7-9 (53 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, Washington fell to 26-7-5 (57 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the
Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also improved to 13-1-8 at home this season with the victory.

Monday night marked the first time that the Bruins beat the Capitals at home since March 6, 2014. Gregory Campbell, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand each had a goal in Boston’s, 3-0, win that night.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) and Zdeno Chara (infection) on Monday.

Miller missed his 38th game this season and has yet to make his season debut, while Kuhlman missed his 30th consecutive game since being injured in Toronto on Oct. 19th.

Chara, on the other hand, missed his 1st game this season due to injury after requiring surgery to take out the plates that were put in his jaw after originally breaking his jaw in Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final last June.

As a result, John Moore returned to the lineup and took over the left side of the top defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy after missing the last two games with an illness.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor adjustments to his lineup, re-inserting Joakim Nordstrom on the fourth line while scratching Chris Wagner as a result.

Nordstrom returned to his fourth line left wing role, while Sean Kuraly moved up to the left side of the third line and Anders Bjork took over on the third line right wing with Wagner scratched.

Wagner and David Backes were the only healthy scratches for the B’s on Monday.

Nick Jensen caught Kuraly with a high stick and presented Boston with their first power play of the night at 1:30 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Radko Gudas hooked Marchand at 5:28 of the opening frame and the B’s went back on the power play.

Nine seconds into the ensuing skater advantage, Jake DeBrusk (9) slid a rebound through Holtby’s five-hole to give Boston their first power play goal of the night and the, 1-0, lead at 5:37.

David Krejci (18) and Matt Grzelcyk (8) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal.

For the third time this season, the Bruins scored first against the Capitals. Boston went 0-1-1 in their previous meetings with Washington entering Monday.

Almost midway through the first period, McAvoy tripped Lars Eller and received a minor penalty at 8:54.

The Caps couldn’t convert on the resulting skater advantage.

Less than five minutes later, Marchand (19) followed up on a rebound and pocketed the puck in the twine for his first goal in 12 games at 13:29.

David Pastrnak (24) and McAvoy (13) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins extended their lead to, 2-0.

Boston scored again, 27 seconds later, when Bjork (6) fired a one-timer through Holtby’s seven-hole to give Boston a three-goal lead.

Charlie Coyle (12) tallied the only assist on Bjork’s goal at 13:56 and the B’s led, 3-0.

Less than a minute later, Connor Clifton and Garnet Hathaway both skated to the penalty box at 14:46, presenting both clubs with two minutes of 4-on-4 action while Clifton was in the sin bin for slashing and Hathaway was in the box for cross checking.

A few minutes later, Washington found themselves on the penalty kill once again– only this time the Capitals were going to be short by two skaters.

Boston had a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play as a result of Jakub Vrana tripping Pastrnak and Evgeny Kuznetsov slashing Krejci at 17:25 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Patrice Bergeron (14) tipped in a shot from Pastrnak over Holtby’s blocker and gave the Bruins a four-goal lead.

Pastrnak (25) and Krejci (19) notched the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal at 18:57 and the B’s led, 4-0.

Bergeron’s goal marked the first time that the Bruins had a four-goal lead over Washington since Oct. 30, 2002– when Cassidy was then head coach of the Capitals– according to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s, Ty Anderson.

It was also the first four-goal first period this season for Boston.

After one period of play on Monday, Boston led Washington, 4-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-8, in shots on goal.

The Bruins also held the advantage in takeaways (5-2), giveaways (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (64-36), while the Caps led in blocked shots (7-2) and hits (12-8) entering the first intermission.

Washington was 0/1 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 2/4 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Capitals head coach, Todd Reirden, replaced Holtby with Samsonov to start the second period and Washington limited Boston’s chances to score for the remainder of the night.

DeBrusk slashed Gudas at 2:05 of the second period and was sent to the penalty box as a result, but the Caps didn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

After killing off DeBrusk’s minor, Krejci was the next Bruin to take a skate to the sin bin and serve a minor infraction for tripping Dmitry Orlov at 5:06.

Wes McCauley blew the whistle to make the call despite Boston not having possession of the puck and a would be Washington own goal taking place at the same time, but the league ruled the play “not reviewable”.

In the meantime, Bruins defender, Torey Krug, quietly exited the game down the tunnel after taking a huge hit from Tom Wilson. Krug did not return in the third period and was ruled out for the night with an upper body injury as Boston later tweeted.

While shorthanded, Marchand sent Coyle (7) on a breakaway whereby the B’s third liner scored on Samsonov’s glove side for his 100th career NHL goal.

Marchand (34) had the only assist on Coyle’s shorthanded goal and the Bruins led, 5-0, at 6:55 of the second period.

Late in the middle frame, Alex Ovechkin (23) wired a shot over Rask’s blocker with traffic in front of the net to disrupt Rask’s shutout attempt and cut Boston’s lead to four goals.

Wilson (14) and John Carlson (35) had the assists as Washington trailed, 5-1, at 14:35.

Less than 20 seconds later, Carlson slashed Kuraly and was assessed a minor infraction at 14:53, but the B’s did not capitalize on the resulting power play.

Through 40 minutes of action on Monday, Boston led Washington, 5-1, on the scoreboard and trailed the Caps, 25-13, in shots on goal as Washington outshot Boston, 17-2, in the second period alone.

The Capitals also held the advantage in takeaways (8-7) and hits (25-16), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (10-8), giveaways (9-2) and faceoff win% (54-46) heading into the final frame of regulation.

Washington was 0/3 on the power play and Boston was 2/5.

Ovechkin kicked things off with a holding penalty at 4:59 of the third period, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing power play and was caught with too many men on the ice in the vulnerable minute after their advantage ended at 7:28.

The Capitals, however, couldn’t score on the power play while DeBrusk served the bench minor.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Wilson hit Pastrnak, then speared him, which led to the two players exchanging pleasantries near the benches and an ensuing scrum at center ice began between the two clubs.

Wilson and Pastrnak each received roughing minors at 13:26, but Wilson earned an extra misconduct for his actions.

Meanwhile, Boston had ended up with too many skaters as a result of a line change as things escalated between Pastrnak and Wilson, so Washington ended up with a power play opportunity as DeBrusk went back to the box to serve the Bruins’ bench minor.

Lars Eller (8) redirected Vrana’s shot under Rask’s glove and brought the Capitals to within three goals at 15:29.

Vrana (16) and Gudas (10) collected the assists on Eller’s goal as Washington trailed, 5-2, with less than five minutes left in the action.

Reirden pulled Samsonov for an extra attacker with about 3:40 remaining in regulation, but Krejci (8) tallied an empty net goal shortly thereafter once Kuraly picked off Ovechkin’s attempt to send the puck out of Washington’s defensive zone.

Kuraly (10) had the only assist on Krejci’s goal and the B’s led, 6-2, at 16:50 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Hathaway (6) cleaned up a mishap to cut Boston’s lead to two goals as Jonas Siegenthaler bounced the puck off the endboards and Hathaway pounced on the loose puck for the goal.

Rask misread the play as his defenders opted not to reach for the puck thinking their goaltender would get it, but Rask thought his defense would get it instead and thus– Washington collected a goal as Boston was stuck in no man’s land.

Siegenthaler (6) had the only assist on Hathaway’s goal at 17:47 and the Bruins led, 6-3.

With 2:07 remaining in the game, Samsonov once again vacated the goal for an extra attacker, but Boston made sure to put the game away as Bergeron (15) collected his second goal of the game– this time on an empty net.

Bergeron’s empty net goal was assisted by Marchand (35) and Pastrnak (26) at 19:32 of the third period and sealed the deal on a, 7-3, victory for the Bruins.

This, after T.J. Oshie leveled McAvoy along the benches, ending the young defender’s night early, but avoiding any major injury as Cassidy indicated to reporters after the game.

Boston finished the night trailing Washington in shots on goal, 42-17, but led in blocked shots (13-10) and giveaways (10-8).

Meanwhile, the Capitals held the advantage in hits (40-19) and were even with the Bruins in faceoff win% (50-50) at the end of the game.

Washington went 0/5 and Boston went 2/6 on the power play on Monday.

The Bruins improved to 15-5-5 when scoring the game’s first goal, 13-3-1 when leading after the first period and 12-0-3 when leading after two periods this season.

Boston finished their four-game homestand (1-0-3) and enters the holiday break 21-7-9 overall on the season. The Bruins travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres in a home-and-home on Dec. 27th before hosting Jack Eichel and his teammates on Dec. 29th. The B’s finish off the month of December in New Jersey on Dec. 31st.

DTFR Podcast #177- And A Dollar Short

2020 Winter Classic sweater reviews, a standings update and Top-10 NHL power rankings.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

A Win-Win Situation for George McPhee

George McPhee is on top of the world right now. Technically speaking maybe it’s just the part of the world that pertains to hockey. Actually, nope, let’s just extend that to all of sports because what the Las Vegas Golden Knights have done under the management of McPhee has never been done before and likely will never happen again. He has taken a team of misfits and turned them into potential Stanley Cup Champions. Just four wins is all that it will take for the Golden Knights to take a drink from the Holy Grail of hockey.

As many have noted, this will be no easy task. Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, and the rest of their crew are not going to simply roll over and die. The Capitals are a very formidable foe. They have been a great hockey team for many years, winning at least 45 games in the past four seasons, including two Presidents’ Trophies in that span. Washington has finally jumped over the so called “playoff hump” and they too have a great chance to raise the Stanley Cup. This brings me back to, George McPhee is on top of the world right now.

When a coach or team manager is fired, I would imagine there are probably a lot of things going through their minds. One of these things would surely be, “When will I get my next chance?” Athletes of any sport want their sunset moment. They don’t want to be removed from the game they love due to a career-ending injury or failing to earn a roster spot because age has taken its toll. General Managers are the same way, in that many of them get fired year after year, but they refuse to let that moment define them. They keep their heads up and work for the next opportunity.

After being relieved of his duties with the Washington Capitals in 2014, George McPhee found a new home with the Golden Knights and he has obviously made the most of it. If this team can win the Stanley Cup to culminate their first year of competition in the NHL, McPhee will be able look proudly upon the accomplishment, knowing he redeemed himself. As he celebrates with his coaches and players, he will experience that sunset moment.

But what if they lose? What if McPhee watches the program he took 17 years to build claim their first Stanley Cup, without him being a part of it? Well, he may not be on the Capitals’ payroll, but McPhee is still a big part of it.

The year is 2004 and a young, talented, Russian winger was first off the board in the NHL Draft. Alex Ovechkin was the first piece of the Capitals’ puzzle, arguable the most important. Two years later, Washington’s staff makes another great first-round selection, picking up Nicklas Backstrom. McPhee continues his hot streak, by drafting John Carlsson, Dmitri Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov in the following years. The General Manager really showed off his recruiting talent when the Capitals chose Braden Holtby, who was a mid-draft pick at 93rd overall in 2008. There were plenty of other goalies on the board, but Washington picked Holtby, and well, you could say that was a pretty good choice.

George McPhee was fired years later due to lack of playoff success, paired with a couple harebrained schemes that turned out to be complete busts. The act of flipping first-round pick Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat was likely the final straw for his time in Washington, but his legacy has lived on. Roughly 50% of the current roster either played under or were drafted by his staff. Sure Washington has transitioned a bit since 2014, by adding talents such as T.J. Oshie, Matt Niskanen, and Brooks Orpik, but the core of the team hasn’t changed a significant amount and McPhee is responsible for that group of players.

When the Golden Knights and Capitals take the ice for the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, you can bet anything that George McPhee will be behind his team. Why wouldn’t he be? Las Vegas can etch their name in the history books with a storybook season that will likely never be matched by another expansion team. But if they do lose, as McPhee watches Washington pass around the Stanley Cup, he can be satisfied knowing he had his hand in building a championship team. One way or the other, he has proven he is one talented General Manager.

Vasilevskiy makes ECF a best-of-three series

 

By winning Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals 4-2 at Capital One Arena, the Tampa Bay Lightning have reclaimed home-ice advantage from the Washington Capitals by leveling the series at two victories apiece.

With Washington out-shooting the visiting Lightning 38-20, no Bolt deserves more credit for the victory than First Star of the Game G Andrei Vasilevskiy. After allowing the first goal of the game to D Dmitry Orlov (F T.J. Oshie and D Matt Niskanen) only 4:28 into the contest, Vasilevskiy proceeded to post a 36-for-38 effort (.947 save percentage) despite facing no fewer than nine shots against per frame. In particular, Vasilevskiy stood extremely tall when taking on Washington’s four power plays, as he saved all nine shots faced while his club was shorthanded.

Meanwhile, G Braden Holtby only wishes his play looked anywhere near as good as Vasilevskiy’s. His 16-for-19 performance (.842 save percentage) was borderline disastrous, especially given the incredible help his offense was providing him.

Wait, offense?

Yes, it was not the Capitals’ defense, but their offense that truly kept Holtby’s workload light. Not only did they more than double Tampa’s shots on goal in both the first and second periods (15-7 and 14-6, respectively), but the Caps also held extended possessions in their offensive zone. Pair that with Oshie’s two takeaways and W Devante Smith-Pelly‘s six hits, and you find a team that made life so easy on its goaltender that he just might have grown complacent.

That’s not to say the goals he allowed were soft. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Take for example Second Star F Brayden Point‘s (F Yanni Gourde and F Tyler Johnson) tic-tac-goal only 1:10 after Orlov’s that tied the game at one-all. Holtby was forced to shade towards his left post when he saw Gourde – who scored 25 goals this season, the fourth-most among all rookies – all by himself inside the near face-off circle, but some deft passing across the slot to Point was all the second line needed to take advantage of a sloppy pass by D Michal Kempny.

Similarly, it’s hard to blame Holtby for his second goal allowed in the first period, registered only 2:54 after Point’s. This time, he was tasked with keeping Tampa’s lethal power play off the scoreboard thanks to C Lars Eller‘s holding penalty against RW Nikita Kucherov 1:05 before.

A power play that had scored at least once in eight previous contests is obviously in a groove, and that groove continued at the 8:32 mark of the game when C Steven Stamkos (Point and F J.T. Miller) set the score at 2-1 with a one-timer from the slot.

For those keeping track at home, the Lightning now sport a 30.8 percent power play conversion rate that is tops among the four teams still competing for the Stanley Cup, trailing only Boston – their opponent in the previous round – for the mark of best power play in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Though the score never changed, the remaining 11:28 of the first period was far from uneventful. However, the previously mentioned shots on goal were not the only activity as even the missed shots drew many a Capitals fan to his or her feet. In particular, W Alex Ovechkin had more than his fair share of salivating shots on net – both in this frame as well as the entire game – but many of those whizzed past the wrong side of the post and harmlessly crashed into the endboards.

Just when it seemed like Vasilevskiy was going to be unbreakable for the remainder of the tilt, Third Star F Evgeny Kuznetsov (Ovechkin and RW Tom Wilson) sprung hope anew in Washington with his wrist shot 5:18 into the second period.

With the exception of Kuznetsov’s path taking him along the left boards instead of between the face-off circles, this goal was eerily reminiscent of the marker that eliminated Pittsburgh from the playoffs for the first time since April 2015. A long pass from Ovechkin sprung his countryman for a breakaway opportunity against the goaltender (who, by happenstance, is also a fellow Russian), who he beat five-hole.

Thanks to some incredible defense played by both clubs (RW Ryan Callahan matched Smith-Pelly’s six hits and D Ryan McDonagh blocked a game-high four shots), that 2-2 tie lasted 26:39 before Tampa third-liner F Alex Killorn (W Ondrej Palat and D Mikhail Sergachev) provided the game-winning goal.

Struck six seconds after Eller was released from the penalty box (his second foul of the night, this time for hooking the eventual goalscorer), Killorn showed some impressive puck-handling skills inside the crease to convert a forehanded shot that would likely be stopped by Holtby’s left leg into a backhand that sneaked between the netminder’s wickets.

With 2:09 remaining in regulation, Head Coach Barry Trotz was forced to pull his goaltender for the second consecutive game. Tampa Bay was unable to convert on the empty net in Game 3, but rookie C Anthony Cirelli bested that effort with 62 seconds remaining to cement the Bolts’ series-evening victory.

Now that they’ve given up the home-ice advantage they worked so desperately to win in Florida, the Capitals must now find a way to win at least one more game at Amalie Arena. A good first step towards doing that – especially for Eller – will be to avoid the penalty box, as the Caps’ 73.7 percent successful penalty kill is the worst remaining in the playoffs.

Saturday is the day for the Eastern Conference Finals’ all-important Game 5. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Eastern (right after the Preakness Stakes) and may be viewed on CBC, NBC and TVAS.

Caps’ attack too much for Bolts; win Game 1 4-2

 

After a 4-2 victory at Amalie Arena over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1, home ice in the Eastern Conference Finals now belongs to the Washington Capitals.

Between the actual 2-0 score and the fact that the Caps led 9-2 in shots on goal, we get a rather accurate impression of how the first 20 minutes went down.

The Caps almost exclusively dominated possession from the opening draw to the first TV timeout. They might have managed only two shots on goal in that time (which still exceeded Tampa’s zero), but the fact that they kept the puck in their offensive zone did a lot to wear out the Bolts’ defensemen early.

That pressure paid off in spades at the 7:28 mark when Washington drew first blood in the Eastern Finals. D Michal Kempny (Second Star of the Game F Evgeny Kuznetsov and D John Carlson) did the dirty work with a wrist shot from the blue line, his first-ever North American postseason marker.

Of course, the best weapon against possession is a stellar counterattack. RW Nikita Kucherov and the Lightning though they had done just that with seven seconds remaining before the first intermission, but it was ruled Tampa Bay had too many men on the ice, negating the goal and awarding a power play to Washington.

Entering the game with the best power play in the postseason (converting 30.9 percent of man-advantages into goals), the Caps completed their stellar command of the first frame by burying a man-advantage tally with only six seconds remaining in the frame.

Who else to score that power play goal than First Star W Alex Ovechkin (Kuznetsov and F T.J. Oshie)? Almost unexpectedly, Ovechkin departed from his usual spot in the left face-off circle and scored his patented one-touch slap shot from the blue line on a set play from Oshie’s face-off victory.

Washington picked up right where it left off 2:40 into the second period. Third Star F Jay Beagle (W Brett Connolly and D Dmitry Orlov) beat G Andrei Vasilevskiy five-hole from the slot, receiving an unintentional assist from D Braydon Coburn after Connolly’s centering pass bounced off his skate.

4:02 later, the score read 4-0 when C Lars Eller (Oshie and Ovechkin) converted a Kucherov roughing penalty into yet another power play goal – Washington’s final tally of the game.

What started as a 2-0 shot differential early in the first period became a 25-10 domination by the second intermission. It could be argued that LW Jakub Vrana‘s game-high five shots on goal is a major part of that, but I would instead point to Oshie’s two takeaways over the course of the game, as well as both Kucherov and FJ.T. Miller yielding two giveaways by the end of regulation.

Additionally, Washington was also excellent at blocking shots, as it managed 19 before retreating to its hotel that evening. Co-led by Carlson and D Matt Niskanen‘s three blocks apiece, the Caps’ blue line was a major reason for Tampa’s struggle to establish anything close to an offensive presence in the opening 40 minutes.

However, all that turned on its head in the third period when Head Coach Jon Cooper elected to bench Vasilevskiy, who saved 21-of-25 shots faced for a .84 save percentage, in favor of G Louis Domingue.

While Vasilevskiy could have certainly been better in this game, he didn’t give up any blatantly soft goals (looking at you, G Pekka Rinne). Instead, his benching was intended to be a message for his team, and the Lightning certainly responded just as Cooper wished.

It took 43:45 of play and RW Alex Chiasson sitting in the penalty box for slashing F Alex Killorn, but Tampa Bay finally got on the scoreboard when C Steven Stamkos (Kucherov and D Victor Hedman) did his best Ovechkin impression and scored a clapper from the left face-off circle, pulling the score to 4-1.

That was certainly more than enough to get the positive energy surging in the arena. Tampa out-shot the Capitals 11-7 in the third period, proving just how much of the game was  played in its attacking zone.

Keeping hope alive, another goal trickled by with 6:57 remaining in regulation when W Ondrej Palat (F Tyler Johnson and D Anton Stralman) beat G Braden Holtby short side with a wrister from the slot.

However, hope ran short in that remaining time due in large part to the solid effort of Holtby. Though it wasn’t his best game of the season, Holtby posed an imposing challenge even after the Bolts pulled Domingue for the extra attacker. In all, he saved his last four shots faced in the game, posting an 19-for-21 (.905 save percentage) overall performance.

If the Lightning learned one thing from this game, it is that they cannot continue committing penalties like they have been in these playoffs. Washington’s power play, which converted 50 percent tonight, is just too potent for the Bolts to continue serving the 14:41 penalty minutes per game that they’ve managed through the first two rounds.

Tampa’s first opportunity to resolve that issue is in Game 2, which is right back at Amalie Arena and scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern this Sunday. Fans unable to make it to Western Florida can catch the live broadcasts on CBC, NBCSN, SN and TVAS.

Capitals break Washington’s 20-year curse, advance to Eastern Finals

Washington Capitals Logopittsburgh_penguins_logoWashington Capitals forward, Evgeny Kuznetsov, had a tremendous chance to give Washington a two-goal lead in the second period, but couldn’t settle the puck as Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender, Matt Murray was down, leaving a mostly open net exposed.

Diehard D.C. sports fans in living rooms across Maryland and Virginia shrugged. They had seen their teams do this before, with all four major North American D.C. sports franchises having blown opportunities to advance to the conference finals in their respective sport since 1998.

But tonight would prove to be different. Kuznetsov would get his shot (literally) at redemption.

At 5:27 of overtime, Kuznetsov scored the game-winning goal— ending Washington, D.C.’s 20-year Eastern Conference Finals appearance drought— as the Capitals defeated the Penguins 2-1 on the road in Game 6.

Braden Holtby made 21 saves on 22 shots against for a .955 save percentage in 65:27 time on ice in the win for Washington, while Murray stopped 28 shots out of 30 shots faced for a .933 SV% in 65:27 TOI in the loss.

Both teams got going in the first period— trading scoring chance for scoring chance— but neither team was able to score in the opening 20 minutes of Game 6 Monday night.

Instead, the only event sheet worthy action in the first period were a couple of minor penalties; one to Pittsburgh’s Olli Maatta for high-sticking at 4:11 and the other to Washington’s Michal Kempny for tripping at 11:25.

After one period of play, the Capitals led in shots on goal (7-6) and hits (16-9), while the Penguins led in blocked shots (7-5), takeaways (3-2), giveaways (8-2) and faceoff win percentage (63-38). The score remained tied, 0-0, through 20 minutes of play and both teams were 0/1 on their respective power play opportunities.

Alex Chiasson (1) notched his first goal of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs— and a timely one at that— as the Capitals took the game’s first lead of the night, 1-0, just over two minutes into the second period. Nathan Walker (1) and Jay Beagle (3) had the assists on Chiasson’s goal, making Walker the fifth Washington rookie to amass a point in this postseason, as well as the first Australian born NHL player to record a point in a Stanley Cup Playoff game.

Kuzenetsov couldn’t bury the puck on a largely open net shortly thereafter.

Sidney Crosby won an offensive zone faceoff midway through the second period and worked the puck back to Brian Dumoulin.

The Penguins defender sent it along to his partner on the blueline, Kris Letang (3) who threw a shot towards the net, where, after deflecting off of a Capitals skater’s stick, the puck went past Holtby and hit the twine, tying the game, 1-1, as the home crowd at PPG Paints Arena erupted.

Dumoulin (6) and Crosby (12) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on Letang’s game-tying goal at 11:52 of the second period.

Pittsburgh surged.

They fired chance after chance at Holtby, only to end up providing the Washington netminder with a highlight reel save with about seven seconds left in the period.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Penguins and Capitals were tied, 1-1. Shots on goal were even too, 15-15. Pittsburgh led in blocked shots (15-11), takeaways (5-3) and giveaways (12-2), while Washington led in hits (29-21). The Pens continued to dominate the faceoff dot, with a 62-38 faceoff win percentage advantage. Neither team recorded a penalty in the second period, so both were still 0/1 on the skater advantage.

The Caps came out in the third period swinging. Then the Penguins responded. Neither team put the puck past their opponent’s goaltender, however.

Holtby made a desperation save with under three minutes to go in regulation and Murray made a desperation save with under one minute remaining in regulation to match Holtby’s effort.

At the end of 60 minutes, the score remained, 1-1, with the Capitals outshooting the Penguins, 24-20. Washington also led in hits (35-29), while Pittsburgh had an advantage in blocked shots (19-14), takeaways (9-3), giveaways (15-4) and faceoff win percentage (65-35).

There were no penalties assessed in the third period, so both teams remained 0/1 on the power play.

Entering overtime, the Capitals held an experience advantage in extra frames this postseason as Washington was taking part in their fifth overtime game of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs while Pittsburgh was seeing their first game past 60 minutes.

Penguins forward, Tom Kuhnhackl, rang the far left post early into the sudden death action shortly after the Capitals generated a couple quality scoring chances on Murray.

T.J. Oshie connected with John Carlson and the Washington defender almost ended it, but soon enough the end would come as the Capitals capitalized on a similar breakout play.

Alex Ovechkin sent Kuznetsov into the zone on a lead pass that turned into a breakaway as Penguins defender, Kris Letang, was caught out of position.

Kuznetsov (7) buried the puck past Murray and Washington propelled themselves over their biggest speed bump in the postseason in the Ovechkin era— the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Ovechkin (7) and Dmitry Orlov (5) notched the assists in poetic fashion, as Ovechkin is often subject to criticism for not doing enough to put his team over the edge. Monday night, his critics were rightfully silenced.

The Capitals won, 2-1, and led in shots on goal, 30-22. Pittsburgh finished the night leading in blocked shots (21-14), giveaways (15-4) and faceoff win percentage (62-38), while Washington finished the night with more hits (36-33). Both teams were 0/1 on the power play with no penalties called after the first period.

For the third time in franchise history (1990 vs. BOS, 1998 vs. BUF, 2018), Washington is in the Eastern Conference Finals. They will square off with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the chance to play in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

“Highlight Reel” Holtby can’t stop Pens

 

Despite saving 21-of-23 shots faced for a .913 save percentage, G Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals fell 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena in Game 4 of their Eastern Semifinals matchup, tying the series at 2-2.

After his hit against F Zach Aston-Reese in Game 3 that ended with the rookie suffering a concussion and broken jaw, RW Tom Wilson was suspended by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for three games (he’ll be eligible to play in Game 7 in Washington, if necessary). As such, many were interested to see which players would fill those holes in the lineups of their respective teams.

For Washington, the next man up was F Shane Gersich, who saw his Stanley Cup playoff debut after playing only three regular season games with the Capitals this season. He slid onto the fourth line with F Jay Beagle and RW Alex Chiasson, while W Devante Smith-Pelly earned a promotion into Wilson’s vacated role with the top-three.

Some might have been led to think F T.J. Oshie would slide from his second line spot into the vacancy, but Head Coach Barry Trotz elected to keep the Warroad graduate on C Nicklas Backstrom‘s line as he’d been all season.

As for the Penguins, they had the luxury of LW Carl Hagelin‘s upper-body injury healing just in time for him to rejoin the club in Aston-Reese’s place. Hagelin was slotted onto the second line with Third Star of the Game F Evgeni Malkin, who had only returned one match ago.

Of course, none of those lineup changes had any affect on Holtby or his black-and-gold clad counterpart in the first period, as they both refused to yield a goal.

While both Holtby and Second Star G Matt Murray performed valiantly in the opening 20 minutes, their success was due largely to the play of their defenses. Pittsburgh’s blue line allowed only seven shots to reach Murray, trailed only slightly by the nine offerings that came Holtby’s way.

Pittsburgh’s defense was a bit more subtle in its technique, but there was no hiding how the Capitals were keeping Holtby’s crease clean. In the first period alone, the Caps threw a whopping 22 hits- 11 more than Pittsburgh. Oshie was a major part of that effort, as his eight body checks accumulated by the end of regulation were a game-high between both clubs.

While we’re on the subject, one of his hits at the end of the game against D Kris Letang was highly questionable, as he clearly leaped at the defenseman with 61 seconds remaining on the clock. Letang was none too pleased and engaged Oshie in a quick fight, but it will be interesting to see what the Department of Player Safety does with this infraction after it just penalized Wilson.

Anyways, that defensive effort did not carry across the first intermission, as all three goals scored against a goaltender were registered in the middle frame.

First Star F Jake Guentzel (F Dominik Simon and C Sidney Crosby) got the scoring started at the 9:21 mark with the lone even-strength goal scored in the game. Simon attempted a shot on goal from the slot that deflected off D Matt Niskanen‘s knee right to Guentzel, who was waiting next to Holtby’s left goal post. After that, it was all the playoff’s leading scorer could do but sling a wrist shot towards the opposite post before receiving an un-penalized crosscheck frame from D Dmitry Orlov.

That advantage lasted only 3:34 before Oshie (Backstrom and F Evgeny Kuznetsov) converted a Guentzel tripping penalty against C Lars Eller into a power play goal. Backstrom waited and waited near the right face-off dot before sliding a pass to Oshie between the circles, and the former St. Louis Blue ripped a nasty snap shot over Murray’s glove hand to level the game at 1-1.

Pittsburgh’s game-winning goal was struck with 2:29 remaining before the second intermission, and it was due almost entirely to Oshie’s interference penalty against D Brian Dumoulin 1:21 earlier.

Making full use of their man-advantage, the Penguins’ eventual scoring possession spent a pass-filled 23 seconds in the offensive zone before Malkin (RW Patric Hornqvist and RW Phil Kessel) forced home a wrister to set the score at 2-1.

It was a case of deja vu for the Penguins when Malkin’s shot barely squeaked across the goal line before Holtby tried to sell that he’d made the save. Under the impression that he’d frozen the puck, play was halted before the officials, just like in Game 2, went to their monitors for further review.

Making matters even more excruciating for the home fans, even after the puck was ruled to have crossed the goal line, Head Coach Barry Trotz challenged the play once again, but this time for goaltender interference. Hornqvist did make contact with Holtby, but it was ruled he was pushed by D Brooks Orpik, acquitting the Swede of any crime.

Thus effectively ended the second period, but the Capitals were still far from defeated.

Unfortunately for them, the Penguins defense played incredibly in the final 20 minutes, allowing only three shots on goal – the last of which was an Orlov slap shot from the point with 9:11 remaining in regulation.

That forced Trotz to resort to drastic measures and pull Holtby with 1:23 remaining on the clock, but any positive energy the extra attacker was able to provide was swiftly ripped away only a dozen seconds later when the Caps were caught with seven skaters on the ice.

Holtby was pulled once again with 65 ticks remaining on the clock, eventually allowing Guentzel (Crosby and Letang) to score a power play empty netter for his league-leading 10th goal of the postseason.

Aptly scheduled on Cinco de Mayo at 7 p.m Eastern, Game 5 at Capital One Arena will determine which side has two opportunities to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The contest will be broadcast on NBC, SN and TVAS.

Caps halfway to Eastern Finals after 4-3 win

 

To reclaim home ice advantage, the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 at PPG Paints Arena in Game 3 of their Second Round matchup.

The biggest headline coming into this evening was that D Brian Dumoulin and F Evgeni Malkin would both be active for this game. Dumoulin was questionable after taking a hit up high from RW Tom Wilson in Game 2, while Malkin had been out since a Flyer landed awkwardly on his leg in Game 5 of the Pens’ First Round series.

A similar note pertaining to F Zach Aston-Reese will be necessary proceeding Game 4, and the fact that his perpetrator is the same as Dumoulin’s has resulted in Wilson drawing even more ire from Pittsburgh fans (if that was even possible). There’s no arguing that Wilson threw a high hit against Aston-Reese, but the referees were unable to make the determination if the Capital’s left shoulder met the rookie’s shoulder or head first, resulting in no penalty being called.

A particularly incriminating piece of evidence should Wilson receive any sort of discipline from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will be the fact that not only was Aston-Reese dazed and bleeding on the ice even before knowledge of his injuries became known (according to the Penguins’ official Twitter account, Head Coach Mike Sullivan has since confirmed that Aston-Reese suffered a broken jaw, which will require surgery, and a concussion as a result of the hit), but also that Wilson’s follow-through on the blow ended with him seated on the sideboards in front of Washington’s bench.

To this amateur official, that indicates that the 6-foot-4 Wilson was intentionally trying to throw a high hit on the 6-foot Aston-Reese, but the only opinion that matters now is George Parros‘ – the man that heads the player safety office.

As for the occurrences of this game that actually showed up on the scoreboard, the Penguins did everything short of score a goal in the first period as they effectively dominated the first 16:21 of action. With the help of two power plays before the midway point of the period, Pittsburgh led in shots on goal (9-7) and face-off wins (61 percent) at the first intermission to keep play almost exclusively in its offensive zone.

Fortunately for the Caps, G Braden Holtby was back to his usual Vezina-winning self after casting doubt on his performance for much of the regular season. Of the offerings that weren’t blocked (D Brooks Orpik took credit for two of the Caps’ three blocks in the frame), Holtby saved all of the Pens’ nine shots on goal to keep the game scoreless.

However, the Pens’ dominance began to fade with 3:39 remaining in the period when First Star of the Game W Alex Ovechkin ripped the puck off D Kris Letang‘s stick to set up a one-on-one opportunity against G Matt Murray. Similar to Holtby, Murray was able to make that save, but Letang’s interference against Wilson at the resolution of Ovechkin’s play started to turn the tables in Washington’s favor.

The Capitals didn’t manage a shot on goal with that man-advantage, but Malkin tripping D Matt Niskanen only 20 seconds after Letang was released from the penalty box didn’t let the Pens capitalize on that positive energy. Instead, Washington fired the final three shots on goal to close the period with a bang.

Since Malkin’s foul had occurred with 1:10 remaining in the first period, he remained in the penalty box at the start of the second frame. Two seconds before he was released, D John Carlson (Second Star C Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin) converted the penalty into the Caps’ league-leading 11th power play goal of the postseason.

Washington didn’t enjoy that lead too long though, as Third Star F Jake Guentzel (D Justin Schultz and C Sidney Crosby) leveled the game only 3:45 later by batting down Schultz’ long-range wrist shot from the blue line.

The Penguins took two one-goal leads in this game, and the first of those scoring plays started at the 5:36 mark of the second period when Orpik was caught hooking RW Patric Hornqvist. 1:13 later, Hornqvist (Malkin and RW Phil Kessel) struck back to convert the infraction into a goal, setting the score at 2-1 with the Pens’ first power play marker of the series.

The high-scoring second period found its fourth goal with 8:56 remaining before the second intermission, courtesy of F Chandler Stephenson (F T.J. Oshie and Backstrom). This goal in particular was one that made the home crowd very upset, as it occurred only 1:17 after play was stopped for Wilson’s hit on Aston-Reese. Had Wilson been charged with a penalty for his hit, the shorthanded Capitals would likely not have been able to level the game at two-all – at least at that moment.

Crosby (Guentzel and Letang) and the Penguins had one goal left in them to set the score at 3-2 before the close of the second period, but Washington’s solid defense ensured that the captain’s four-on-four snap shot with 3:33 remaining in the frame was the last strike they had in them for the rest of the game.

Pittsburgh managed only three shots on goal in the third period, due in large part to the Capitals’ five blocked shots in the frame (including two by D Dmitry Orlov) and a combined total of 28 hits thrown by both teams (the Penguins out-hit Washington 52-41 for the entire game).

Meanwhile, the Capitals’ attack just kept right on chugging along. Niskanen (Orlov and Wilson) leveled the game at three-all at the 5:06 mark of the third period with his first playoff goal since April 29, 2017 (coincidentally against Pittsburgh, of course).

Play proceeded under a tied score for much of the frame, to the point that many in the Steel City were prepared to settle in for an overtime game. However, Ovechkin (Backstrom) did not seem so interested in that, as he provided Washington’s game-winning goal with only 1:07 remaining in regulation by batting his initial shot that bounced off the right post out of mid-air and into the back of Murray’s net.

That forced Sullivan to pull Murray, but the Penguins couldn’t even manage one shot on goal with the sixth attacker to affect the 4-3 final score.

Holtby saved 19-of-22 shots faced (.864 save percentage) in the victory, while Murray saved only 18-of-22 (.818) in the loss.

Beyond needing better goalkeeping from Murray, the Penguins desperately need another line than their top-three to produce some offense. Malkin getting back into the swing of things is a valid-enough excuse for the second line, but Kessel and C Derick Brassard managed only two combined shots on goal in the entire game from the third line. Until Pittsburgh can get back to having three potent attacking lines like they’ve had the last two seasons, these dreams of a three-peat will need to be put on the back burner.

Game 4 between these clubs will be right back at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa. at 7 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, March 3. To catch the match, viewers should tune their televisions to NBCSN, SN or TVAS.

Caps win, 4-1, even series with Pens

pittsburgh_penguins_logoWashington Capitals Logo

 

 

Lars Eller (0-3—3) had the gifted playmaking hands in Washington’s 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday at Capital One Arena as the Capitals evened the Second Round series, 1-1.

Braden Holtby made 32 saves on 33 shots faced for a .970 save percentage in the win, while Penguins netminder, Matt Murray, amassed 28 saves on 31 shots against for a .903 SV% in 57:48 time on ice.

Similar to Game 1, the Capitals scored the game’s first goal early in the first period as Alex Ovechkin (7) rocketed one past Murray just over a minute into the game. The goal was unassisted at 1:26.

Evgeny Kuznetsov took the game’s first penalty after tripping Pittsburgh’s Riley Sheahan almost seven minutes into the action. The Penguins did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Penguins captain, Sidney Crosby, was penalized for hooking Washington forward, Nicklas Backstrom, at 12:59 of the fire period and the Capitals went on their first power play of the afternoon.

Holtby initiated a breakout from Washington’s defensive zone with a pass up the ice to Lars Eller. Eller connected Jakub Vrana (1) with the puck on his stick and Vrana brought it point blank before firing a shot high-glove side past Murray for his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal.

Eller (1) and Holtby (1) notched the assists on the power play goal and the Capitals had a 2-0 lead late in the first period.

At least, the Capitals thought they had a two-goal lead at 14:54 of the first period until Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, almost put a stop to that, having used his coach’s challenge on the goal on the basis that Brett Connolly made enough contact with Murray prior to the goal being scored that would otherwise negate the goal (on the count of goaltender interference).

The goal was reviewed and the call on the ice was confirmed. Vrana had indeed scored his first career postseason goal and Pittsburgh lost their timeout.

Entering the first intermission, Washington was leading, 2-0, and outshooting the Penguins 2:1 (20 shots on goal to Pittsburgh’s 10 shots on goal).

Connolly (1) found himself on a breakaway early in the second period after collecting a stretch pass from Eller and fired a shot on Murray’s glove side. Despite catching a chunk of the puck, the vulcanized rubber biscuit deflected off of Murray and into the twine behind the Penguins netminder.

In what was yet another first, Connolly, had his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal and the Capitals had a 3-0 lead at 2:08 of the second period. Eller (2) had his second assist of the afternoon.

Almost midway through the period, Tom Wilson caught Penguins defender, Brian Dumoulin, up high with what appeared to be an elbow to the head. Dumoulin did not return to Pittsburgh’s lineup.

Just past the halfway mark of the second period, tensions continued to escalate between the division rivals after the whistle as Patric Hornqvist and Dmitry Orlov began mixing things up with the gloves firmly glued onto their hands.

Both players received matching roughing minors and play continued.

Kris Letang (2) found the back of the net behind Holtby at 13:04 of the second period and put the Penguins on the scoreboard— cutting Washington’s three-goal lead to two.

Justin Schultz (4) and Jake Guentzel (10) had the assists on Letang’s goal.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Capitals led, 3-1, and shots on goal were even (26-26). Washington led in hits (29-26), takeaways (12-3) and giveaways (12-3), while the Penguins dominated the faceoff dot, winning 58-percent of the faceoffs taken through two periods. Pittsburgh was 0/1 on the power play and the Caps were 1/1 on the man advantage after two.

T.J. Oshie was guilty of interfering with Crosby early in the third period.

Pittsburgh thought they had found revenge on the scoreboard after Crosby wrapped around the goal, fired the puck off the side of the net and Hornqvist banked it off of Holtby’s right leg pad.

However, there was no indication on the ice that a goal had been scored, nor was there a signal (red light) from the goal judge behind the glass in the first row of seats. The play was immediately reviewed.

Although it appeared as if the puck had crossed the line and gone in from an angle that NBC showed on television, the league determined otherwise.

The call on the ice was confirmed after review. There was no conclusive angle, despite the fact that white space could be seen between the puck and the goal line from the aforementioned NBC angle. Yet, there was a snow pile on the goal line (making things difficult) and the overhead camera angle was further inconclusive.

Perhaps now is the time to reference once again that game back in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, whereby Calgary… Well, let’s not bring up those memories and instead make a quick plug for goal line technology to be implemented— considering it’s 2018 and all.

Additionally, technically speaking, shouldn’t the ruling have been “inconclusive” instead of “confirmed” since there was no indication prior to review that a goal had not been scored?

It was a rough few minutes for Kuznetsov after the goal that never actually happened, as Letang had held him (and received a minor penalty) and Derick Brassard had tripped him up (also a minor penalty).

Despite not converting on the man advantage, Kuznetsov took it upon himself to commit the next penalty (slashing against Letang) and see if Washington’s penalty killing units were any better.

Sullivan pulled his goaltender for the extra skater with about two minutes remaining in regulation.

Matching roughing minors for Devante Smith-Pelly and Hornqvist forced Murray back into the goal briefly as the Penguins had to work the puck out of their own zone.

With roughly 80 seconds left in regulation, Murray, once again, vacated the net and Pittsburgh looked to do the impossible.

Washington put the game away with an empty net goal thanks to Backstrom (3) with about seven seconds remaining. Wilson (4) and Eller (3) had the assists on the goal that made it, 4-1, Capitals and assured the home team of the win in Game 2.

After 60 minutes had been played, Washington tied the series, 1-1, with a 4-1 victory and trailed in shots on goal, 33-32. The Caps led in blocked shots (31-24), hits (33-31) and giveaways (17-4). The Pens led in faceoff win percentage (56-44) and finished the afternoon 0/3 on the power play. Washington went 1/3 on the man advantage in Game 2.

The series shifts to PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Tuesday night. Puck drop is expected to be a little after 7:30 p.m. ET and United States viewers can tune in on NBCSN. Fans in Canada can get their share of the action on Sportsnet or TVAS2. The winner of Game 3 will take a pivotal 2-1 series lead.