Capitals-Penguins 12/1/2011 Live Blog: Capitals lose 2-1.

Tonight the Washington Capitals take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. This should be a good matchup. The Penguins are coming into tonight sitting on top of the Eastern conference and are favored to win this match-up. Meanwhile, the Capitals are looking to give new coach Dale Hunter his first NHL win and hope to end their current three game losing streak. If the Capitals can pull off a win tonight, it would be huge for them.

GAME NOTES:

  • Tonight marks the second time the Capitals and Penguins have faced off this season, and the first time since Penguins forward Arron Asham injured Jay Beagle in a fight. It is also the first time this season Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby will be squaring off. They always seem to bring out the best in each other, so I expect quite a performance from both of them. Alex Ovechkin has 33 points (19 goals and 14 assists) in 25 career games against the Penguins, while Sidney Crosby has 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 21 career games against the Capitals.
  • The Capitals scratches tonight are Mike Green, Jay Beagle, Mathieu Perreault, and Roman Hamrlik. Perreault is a healthy scratch. Hamrlik is a healthy scratch and has been struggling mightily as of late. Penguins are scratching Kris Letang and Michaelek.
  • Still not timetable for the returns of Mike Green or Jay Beagle. Green is skating again, so that’s a good sign.
  • Tomas Vokoun will be getting the start for the Capitals tonight. Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for the Penguins.
  • Since 2008, the Washington Capitals have a 12-1-2 regular season record with two shutout losses against the Penguins.

Capitals Lines:

8-19-20 (Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer)
50-90-28 (Cody Eakin-Marcus Johansson-Alexander Semin)
25-21-42 (Jason Chimera-Brooks Laich-Joel Ward)
26-15-22 (Matt Hendricks-Jeff Halpern-Mike Knuble)

Penguins Lines:

14-87-9 (Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis)
26-71-18 (Sullivan-Malkin-Neal)
24-11-48 (Cooke-Staal-Kennedy)
45-12-27 (Asham-Park-Adams)

Keys to Victory:

  1. Always know where Crosby is, and make sure he is covered at all times. 
  2. Dominate the hitting game. If the Penguins have a weakness at this point, it’s their physicality. 
  3. Play smart defense. Don’t give the Penguins any easy goals, they don’t need the help.
  4. Get the forecheck going and crash the net.

FIRST PERIOD

14:39: PENGUINS GOAL. 1-0 Penguins.

Goal: Adams (2)
Assists: Asham (6) Park (5)

The greenhorn Dmitry Orlov missed his assignment on this goal. Should have been at the post. He got a stern talking to by Hunter and assistant coach Jim Johnson, and he didn’t miss it again.

14:33: FIGHT! John Erskine vs. Arron Asham.

This clearly had something to do with Jay Beagle. The point was made, and it was a great fight. I’ll post video as soon as I can find it.

End of the first period. Penguins leading 1-0

Great first period. Tons of intensity from both teams, this is why this is a fantastic rivalry. As I expected, the Capitals have dominated the hitting game 19-6. Hits can be an unreliable stat, but what matters is that the Capitals came out hitting hard and often. Ovechkin leads the team with 5 hits so far. Overall, probably one of Oveckin’s best periods so far this season. Dominating the hitting game, and dominating on offense as well. And quite frankly, best period from him I’ve seen this year from a defensive standpoint. Wow.

The Capitals are definitely getting chances in their attack zone, but they have to start crashing the net. You aren’t going to beat the Penguins with only 4 shots a period. The Penguins have 13 shots on goal thus far, but the Capitals are not giving them anything. Sidney Crosby has two desperation shots and has been kept in check by Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera. Most of their 6 combined hits (3 by each) have been on Sidney Crosby.

If the Capitals can keep up their energy, they can stay in this. If they start crashing the net and being more aggressive with the puck, they just might win it.

SECOND PERIOD:

18:40- CAPITALS GOAL. 1-1.

Goal: Jason Chimera (10)
Assists: Ward (5) Laich (10)

Jason Chimera put a wrist shot past Fleury to tie the game. Brooks Laich dumped the puck for Chimera, Ward got down as well and saved the play from being called for icing.

END OF THE SECOND PERIOD, CAPITALS AND PENGUINS TIED AT 1.

Apparently the Capitals read this post because they did precisely what I told them to do. Both sides are crashing the net hard. The Capitals got 11 shots on goal in the second period, while the Penguins got 12. That makes the shot total 25-15 in favor of the Penguins. Capitals need to continue to crash the net, and in general keep up their intensity. Vokoun is having a heck of a night so far.

Capitals are still dominating the hitting game, as they are outhitting the Pens 33-18. They’re also dominating the face offs to the tune of 25-13. This new Capitals penalty kill is a ton of fun to watch. They attack the puck and force power plays out of their rhythm. It’s risky, but if you run it efficiently like the Capitals are able to do, it is very hard to score against.

Crosby is having a very rare off-night. Usually he’s one of the most (if not the most) disciplined players out there. Tonight, he’s been called offsides I believe four times. I haven’t heard his name mentioned much tonight. Now Malkin… there’s a guy who’s having a heck of a night. Paul Martin has been rock solid all night on the defensive end for the Penguins.

This third period should be extremely exciting. The momentum has shifted towards the Capitals. Let’s see if they can take advantage of that. They’ll have their backs against the wall to start though, as they have 52 seconds left on a penalty kill.

THIRD PERIOD

17:24- PENGUINS GOAL. Penguins lead 2-1.

Just an all-around ugly goal. Chris Kunitz stole the puck from Erskine and Johansson, and Kunitz got an incredible shot off between the two. Vokoun was clearly surprised by it, and couldn’t get to it. Vokoun should have had it, but at the same time, he was being screened by Erskine. Place the blame equally between the three, and give credit to Kunitz too, that was an incredible shot.

FINAL SCORE:
Penguins: 2
Capitals: 1

The Capitals just weren’t able to get anything going on the offensive end in the third period. You can’t take just 2 shots in the third period when you’re down by a goal and expect to win. This offense is still a work in progress to say the least, but there was one bright point: the forechecking. There is definitely something there. Hopefully Dale Hunter can build on it. This offense is way too talented to not start scoring again. From what I’ve seen at practices, the Capitals new offense might not be the high-flying offense that Caps fans are used to. However, it will be more efficient and definitely more consistent.

The defense did a great job tonight save two small errors. Considering that these guys just started learning Dale’s system on Monday, I’m extremely impressed with how they look. The most promising thing though, is that when someone makes a mistake on defense, Johnson will talk to the offender. And they don’t do it again. This is without a doubt in my mind a Stanley Cup-caliber defense if they play to their true ability.

To sum up my response to this game:

GIVE. IT. TIME.

Brian Hradsky

The owner of MSB, I created this website while in college and it has never died.

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