Capitals versus Penguins – Game 1 Stats and Analysis

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Capitals dropped Game 1 to Pittsburgh in Washington by a final score of 3-2. After falling down 0-2 early in the second period, the Caps’ battled back. With goals from captain Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington tied the game and had every ounce of momentum on their side late in the game. 

One mistake cost the Caps’ this game. With 7:24 remaining in the third period, Nick Bonino found space up the middle on the rush and beat Braden Holtby to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead and eventual win.

Why was this game a missed opportunity. Because while 5 on 5 the Capitals out attempted the Penguins 72-32. In fact, after Sidney Crosby’s 2nd goal of the game at the 1:04 mark of the second period, the Capitals out attempted the Penguins 55-17.

Lets take a look at some more stats from Game 1.

The first period was mostly even. The Penguins played well the first ten minutes, however the Capitals took over the second ten minutes. The period finished with the Capitals leading in 5v5 shot attempts 16-12.

The second period was dominated by the Capitals. After Pittsburgh’s two goals, the Capitals went on to lead shot attempts 35-15. Ovechkin scored a goal late in the second as well,  his 4th of the playoffs.

The third period was no better for the Penguins (possession wise). To go along with the domination in possession, Kuznetsov scored a tying goal. The Capitals finished period three out attempting the Penguins 21-5.

Individually the Capitals looked great again. There was not one player who finished under 50% in shot attempts% or Corsi. Andre Burakovsky was the best with 25 attempts for and just 5 attempts against for a percentage of 83%. Jay Beagle was technically the worst at just 5 attempts for and 5 attempts against and 50%.

On the Penguins side of things, not one player finished above 50%. Patric Hornqvist finished at 48%, which was best on his team, Conor Sheary finished an awful 4%, he had just 1 attempt for and 22 against.

The third line is something we should be keeping an eye on. We all know the skill these two teams have in the top 6, with centers like Crosby, Backstrom, Malkin and Kuznetsov, we expect them to score and maybe cancel each other out. Depth could win this series.

As it turned out, depth won Game 1. Nick Bonino was awful in possession all game and finished just 8% Corsi with Pittsburgh getting just 2 attempts with him on the ice, and surrendering 21 attempts with him on the ice. BUT, he got the winner.

Lars Eller on the other hand finished at 78% possession, 26 attempts for and just 7 against. He also got the primary assist on the Ovechkin goal in the second period.

The Penguins won the faceoff battle in Game 1 at 54%-46%. The reason for this was an awful second period by the Capitals, where they went 4-19 for 21%. The Capitals won the dot in the first and third periods 53% and 62% respectively.

Particularly disappointing was Nicklas Backstrom who finished 4-17 or 24% on the night. Kuznetsov was 6-10, Eller was 10-22 and Beagle was 3-5.

Beagle, you can argue ( and win most arguments) is the Capitals best faceoff man, had just 3 faceoffs after two periods and won just one of them.

Final Analysis
I thought the Capitals played a very good game. I still think they played too fancy at times and passed up good shooting opportunities. In my opinion they still need to play a grittier game, get more pucks to the net, get to the paint, and get some dirty goals.

I tweeted when the score was 2-2 and the Capitals had all the momentum. In said tweet I mentioned the Capitals looked great, but they might need Holtby to make a big save or two. He didn’t make that big save. He needs to be better in my eyes.

I didn’t think the referees were very good this game, but they were the farthest thing from costing the Capitals the game. Pittsburgh had just two power plays so it was 5 to nothing in that category. The Capitals could have gotten a couple of power plays, too, but they had plenty of opportunities to win the game regardless.

Pittsburgh can play better. That’s maybe the scariest thing to take from this game. They can play much better and they’re up 1-0. If the Caps play like they did in Game 1, I wouldn’t doubt if they win this series. But Game 2 is now obviously a must win. The Capitals can’t go Pittsburgh down 0-2.

By CJ Witt

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