Not so Super Sunday: Penguins clip Capitals 4-3
In the first meeting of Metro giants, the Capitals and Penguins took the ice prior to the Super Bowl in a matchup of old foes. The Capitals have been flying high since October, leading the league in points. The Penguins have thrived on depth, surviving some major injuries to their star players to stay in playoff position.
There were 2 minutes of 5-on-5 play in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Capitals and Penguins alternated power play opportunities to begin.
Lars Eller kicked off the scoring for Washington, rifling a shot over Matt Murray’s glove.
Remember that depth that Pittsburgh has? Some guy named Sam Lafferty scored a nice goal to even it up that beat Ilya Samsonov short-side. The Pens took the lead a few minutes later off a weird deflection in front of the net. More on that later.
The Capitals extended their deficit to two with what can only be described as “the worst defense ever.” Dominik Simon was ignored(???) in front of the net, and he poked in a chance that Samsonov would probably like back.
The Capitals came to life in the 3rd period. A beautiful Kuznetsov backhand beat Murray over the glove to bring the Capitals within one.
A late push by Washington was repeatedly stopped by Murray, and eventually, the Capitals defense faltered again. Brandon Tanev popped a weird deflection in that changed speeds and beat Samsonov over the glove
Lars Eller gave the Capitals a chance late with a wicked snipe that beat Murray high glove. Probably the prettiest non-Stanley Cup clinching goal of his career.
Pressure late by Washington was turned away. Capitals lose!
- Let’s start with the positives: Lars Eller had his best game of the season. The 3rd and 4th line devoured the Penguins depth, turning in 1 goal and generating tons of shots.
- Nick Jensen had another great day. He finally looks comfortable in this system after being acquired at the deadline last year.
- Kuznetsov looked very engaged today. He played physical, chased down pucks, and most importantly, he shot the puck *gasps*. My only complaint? Just shoot it more. The Pens 4th goal was a direct result of a poor decision to pass instead of shooting from the slot.
- On to the not-so positive: Samsonov’s game tonight wasn’t great. He and Holtby should have dinner to discuss why the defense is so, so bad. Two bad goals from a lack of pressure in the slot cost the Capitals in this one.
- Please launch the power play into the Sun. Blaine Forsythe took over the duties as the power play coach back in 2015 and transformed the Capitals unit into one of the best in the league. But the past season and a half has seen the Capitals stumble from top-3 to 11th this year. The culprit? Poor breakouts and zone entries. Screw the slingshot and please shake things up. Not sure why the only adjustment I saw today was flipping Ovechkin and Carlson again. They’re the only two good pieces operating on special teams right now.
- The coaching staff is doing….poorly? We’ll have more on this in another article, but the lack of adjustment is mind-blowing. I am beginning to wonder if Reirden is capable of steering this team to a Cup.