Game 2 Preview: Penguins @ Capitals

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Tonight the Capitals and Penguins will meet again for Game 2 of the best of seven series between the two best teams in the NHL. The Penguins won a close, but hard-fought contest in Game 1 by the final score of 3-2. The Capitals look to even this series up at a game apiece with a win tonight before it shifts to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4. Puck drop tonight is at 8:00 on NBC

PITTSBURGH
The Penguins escaped Game 1 with a 3-2 win thanks in large part to their start in the middle period. 12 seconds in, Sidney Crosby lit the lamp and he did it again 52 seconds later. After that the Capitals stormed back to even the score with a goal in the second and third. Pittsburgh would later regain the lead with 7:24 left in the game with a goal by Nick Bonino, the villain that ended the Capitals last postseason play. Bonino’s tally would turn out to be the game-winner.

Marc-Andre Fleury had a good showing behind the net as he continues to fill in for the injured Matt Murray. Fleury stopped 33 of 35 shots and the Penguins overall had 29 blocked shots. Defense was the clear difference in Game 1.

Thursday was the Penguins first game in over a week. They took care of the Blue Jackets in the previous series in five games, but the way they responded after blowing a 2-0 lead showed no signs of rust.

WASHINGTON
After losing Game 1, tonight’s game could be the Capitals most important game of the season. A win tonight, and the momentum shifts right back to the Caps. A loss? Heading to Pittsburgh down 0-2, and with the Penguins undefeated in the playoffs at home (3-0) coming back would be a tall order.

In that Game 1 loss, the Capitals actually played really well. They out-attempted the Penguins 72-32, outshot them 35-21, and out-hit them 41-17. During the final 10 minutes of the opening period, the Caps didn’t allow the Penguins to get a single shot. One of the biggest reasons the Capitals lost Game 1 was due to their defensive mishaps in the early second period, allowing Crosby to get two goals.

Down 2-0, the Capitals didn’t panic. Alex Ovechkin would get a goal later in the second period and Evgeny Kuznetsov would tie it in the third. After Kuznetsov’s goal, he did the celebration of a bird flying. Perhaps it’s because eagles (their mascot Slapshot’s bird type) can fly while Penguins can’t.

This morning, during the Caps’ morning skate, head coach Barry Trotz made an adjustment on his fourth line. Last round he switched Tom Wilson to the third line and Brett Connolly to the fourth. Today he made Connolly a scratch while putting Paul Carey in his spot on the fourth line. The fourth line has zero points so far this postseason while the other three forward lines have gotten quality production. Trotz is hoping Carey’s speed can help bolster the bottom line.

ICE SHAVINGS

  • In 14 career playoff games against the Penguins, Alex Ovechkin has recorded 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists). Ovechkin has earned a point in 12 of his 14 career playoff games against Pittsburgh and ranks first among NHL players in career playoff games against the Penguins.
  • The Capitals are 14-11 all-time at home in Game 2 of a series and have posted a 10-6 record in Game 2 when they trail a series 1-0. In addition, Washington has won Game 2 in six of it’s last nine playoff series.
  • Nicklas Backstrom has tallied six points (two goals, four assists) in seven games this postseason and has earned 12 points (3 goals, nine assists) in 14 career playoff games against Pittsburgh.

LAST TIME WE MET

GAME LINKS
Game Notes vs. Pittsburgh, 4/29/17 (Capitals PR)
Caps Seek to Square Series on Saturday vs. Pens (Mike Vogel)
Caps Won’t Call Game 2 a Must-Win, But They Will Hint at it Strongly (J.J. Regan/CSN)

RELATED READING
Paul Carey Will Replace Brett Connolly in Game 2
Caps Fan Tosses Beer at Sidney Crosby
Capitals versus Penguins – Game 1 Stats and Analysis
Penguins Beat Capitals 3-2, Take 1-0 Series Lead
Perspective: Battle Tested and Ready for Pittsburgh

By Michael Marzzacco

About Michael Marzzacco

Michael is an avid DC sports fan with a passion for writing. He has followed the Washington Capitals since the 2003-04 season, around the time his enthusiasm for DC teams really began. It was from the days when they had the worst record in the league to when they became the most exciting team in the area. His Dad took him to his first Caps game a couple of years later. One of his favorite memories was being in the stands during the 2015 Winter Classic where Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal with 12 seconds left. Michael graduated from Radford University in May 2016, earning a degree in journalism and focusing on sports journalism and broadcasting. His goal is to work in sports media in Washington, D.C.
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