The Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Tuesday night at Verizon Center. With the win, the Capitals record improves to a league-best 46-12-4 (96 points). The loss dropped the Penguins record to 32-22-8 (72 points). The Capitals next play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night at Verizon Center. Puck-drop is 7:00 PM.
After enduring the typical maelstrom associated with the annual NHL trade deadline, which included the emotional departure of long-time Capital Brooks Laich, the Caps got back to work on this warm first day of March in the District.
Braden Holtby got the start in net for the Capitals. Bakcup goalie Matt Murray got the start between the pipes for the Penguins. Taylor Chorney and Michael Latta were the healthy scratches for the Capitals. John Carlson missed his 4th consecutivce game due to injury.
The Caps reverted to old ways, and were outplayed by the Penguins in the opening period, and yielded the game’s first goal. The Caps would get their first official shot on goal 8:53 into the contest. The Caps were outplayed for the first period and half of the second period. The Caps were down 2-0 early in the second period before the Caps surge would begin. Goals by Mike Richards and Evgeny Kuznetsov would tie the game at 2-2 at the end of two periods. Matt Niskanen would win it on a blast from the point, late in the third period. Team stats for the game can be found here: Individual player stats for the game can be found here: Faceoff stats for the game can be found here: Photos from the game can be found here:
A fairly even first five minutes of 5-on-5 play, however as the period progressed, the Pens began to control even-strength play. The Pens showed a significant advantage when the bottom two lines were on the ice. The Pens would get the game’s first goal on a neutral zone turnover, which led to a 2-on-1 break away, finished by Evgeny Malkin at 6:14 of the first period.
The Caps would get their first official shot on goal at the 8:53 mark of the first period. The Caps would get the games’ first power play when Chris Kunitz was called for tripping Tom Wilson at 11:55. The Caps would generate four shots on goal, but could not find the back of the net. The Pens would get their first power play of the game on a cross checking call on Karl Alzner at 16:30, but 31 seconds in, the Pens man-advantage would be washed away on a slashing call on the Pens Phil Kessel. The first period would end with the Penguins leading 1-0. The Penguins out-shot the Caps 13-10 for the opening frame.
The start of the second period saw the continuation of the Pens controlling 5-on-5 play, with the bottom line, depth players dominating play. This would quickly lead to the Pens second goal, this time Patric Hornquest would knock home the short-ranger at 3:45 of the second period, giving the Penguins a two goal lead.
Mike Richards would get it back quickly, closing the gap to 2-1 on a wrister from the slot at 4:24.
The Penguins bottom two lines continued to generate scoring chances and dominate play. As a result, Trotz flipped centers, Richards from fourth line to 3rd line, and Johansson from 3rd line down to 4th line, in order to try to gain an edge. Mid-way through the second period, the Capitals would begin to gain some ground, catching up on scoring chances and shots on goal. Evgeny Kuznetsov would tie it on the knock-in of a rebound at 16:03.
The period would end with the game tied at 2-2. The Capitals led 26-23 in shots on goal after two period.
The Capitals would hang on for the 3-2 win.