Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
It’s not the revenge the Capitals wanted. After being eliminated the past two seasons by the Pittsburgh Penguins, including a game 7 home-ice loss last spring, the Capitals were definitely hoping to get a win vs their rivals the first time they met this season. They didn’t. The Capitals fell 3-2 in a pretty entertaining game.
Unlike the previous two games where the Caps were dominated in shot attempts, Washington out attempted Pittsburgh. As you can see there was a stretch in the game that the Caps did very well.
From the middle of the first until the middle of the second the Capitals were in control of the game. The Penguins made the game more even in the third period. Considering the Capitals were down 3-1 early in the third, it’s a little disappointing that the Penguins won the shot attempts in the third. The official number ended up Pittsburgh 16 to Washington’s 13.
The expected goals ended heavily in Pittsburgh’s favor. Looking at the chart above you can see the Penguins got inside and close to Holtby a lot, while the Capitals were more spread out on their chances.
There weren’t too many names to point out after tonight’s game. You can see two of the first liners were good tonight. Ovechkin and Vrana led the way for the Caps. Rookie defenseman Christian Djoos was also good in possession.
The biggest thing I think to note here was the fourth line. Last season the fourth line was awful vs Pittsburgh, and tonight was no different. The fourth line tonight had ONE shot attempt for combined. That shot attempt came from Smith-Pelly. Graovac played just six minutes tonight.
Other names to point out:
Dmitri Orlov: -5
Nicklas Backstrom: 4
Evgeny Kuznetsov: 4
John Carlson: 3
Faceoffs were up and down. Beagle and Eller were both really good tonight while the top two centers were both good being over or at 50%. In the first period the Capitals won 16 of 19 faceoffs, that equals 84%. In the second period they won just 39% and then came back and won 55% in the third period. In total the Caps won the battle tonight 38-67 or 57%.
Other faceoff takers tonight:
Brett Connolly: 2 of 2
Alex Chiasson: 1 of 1
Graovac, Oshie & Vrana: 0 of 1
I thought Holtby played very well tonight. He made some big saves and all the goals against tonight I don’t think you can put any blame on him.
Special teams will be the difference tonight. The power play had four chances failing to score while the Caps had to kill six penalties only being successful three times. The PK I thought was good tonight. Even allowing three goals I thought the kill didn’t allow much and the three goals Pittsburgh scored were down low and Pittsburgh was more hungry there than Capitals defensemen.
It sucks to lose to your rivals but I didn’t think the Capitals were bad tonight. But it’s going to take a lot more than “not being bad” to beat a team like Pittsburgh.
Capitals have a back to back this weekend, first up the New Jersey Devils on Friday then the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. We’ll see if the Caps can get back on track vs the division this weekend.
By CJ Witt
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The Pittsburgh Penguins make their way back to D.C. and hand the Caps a 3-2 loss, which is their first regulation loss. This was a penalty infested game for both sides, but Caps were effected most. Penguins penalty was stable all night, unlike the Caps penalty kill unit who allowed all three goals. Defenseman Christian Djoos made his NHL debut tonight, and like Nathan Walker, he scored his first NHL career goal in his debut, although it was also his first shot on goal and the first Caps goal of the night. Penguins started this game off with this control as Caps weren't prepared to play. Kris Letang takes advantage of the early power play and gives the Penguins the 1-0 lead 5:22 in. Caps started to get their grasp and generated many chances near the end of the period, however none went in. Caps entered the second losing momentum and lost puck control. 8:20 in Patric Hornqvist scores the Penguins' second goal (PPG). That lead is cut in half with 53 seconds remaining when Christian Djoos tallies his goal. Penguins earn another powerplay at the beginning of the third and Conor Sheary converts to regain the two goal lead. Caps began to attack again, so Alex Ovechkin scores at 12:51 to make it a one goal game. Caps couldn't finish off their rally and let the Penguins leave D.C. with a victory once again. Caps will next travel to New Jersey to face the Devils on Friday at 7:00 pm ET.