The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins will clash in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Capital One Arena on Sunday afternoon at 3 PM. The game will be televised nationally on NBC. Pittsburgh took Game 1 by a 3-2 score on Thursday night. After Game 2, the series will shift to PPG Paints Arena for Games 3 and 4. Here are five keys for the Capitals to win Game 2:
1. 60 Full Minutes
The Caps did everything right for the majority of Game 1 but the five minutes they didn’t play well in cost them the game. They cannot afford to let down for even a couple of minutes against a quick-strike offense like Pittsburgh’s.
If they play a complete game, they will win Game 2.
2. More Traffic In Front of Murray
Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray was the biggest reason why the Penguins won Game 1. He made 32 saves on 34 shots. The Capitals nearly tied the game when Brett Connolly got a rebound in front of the net with 2:32 left in the game, but Murray stopped it. He made another great blocker save when Devante Smith-Pelly pounced on another rebound in front of the net. Murray also made a few good saves with his left pad throughout the course of the game.
The Capitals generated a lot of good opportunities to bury the puck but couldn’t beat the goaltender. To fix that in Game 2, they must get more bodies in front of the net to make it harder for Murray to stop the puck.
The Capitals’ two goals in Game 1 came off of a quick shot from the slot and on a breakaway. Odds are that Murray is going to stop a few more of those kinds of shots so Washington needs to go in front of the net to create havoc and bury rebounds.
3. Feel Confident
The Capitals were the better team for 92% of Game 1 and even though they never got the win, they should still be confident because how they played in Game 1 is exactly how they will win the series if they continue to press the play for 60 minutes. They did a good job generating scoring chances and staying out of the box against the league’s most dangerous power play.
If the Capitals feel confident that they can win and play like it, there is no reason why they should lose Game 2.
4. Contain Pittsburgh’s Top Line
All three of the Penguins‘ goals in the third period came from the first line of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guenztel, and Patric Hornqvist. The trio combined for three goals and seven points and generated 32% of the Penguins’ shots in Thursday’s game.
The Capitals matched their top defensive pair of Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov against the Pens’ top line for most of the night. Both defensemen were a -1. They have to do a better of limited the Pens’ top trio, although the D-pair combined for seven hits, five blocked shots, one giveaway, and one takeaway in Game 1.
Crosby and Guenztel share the NHL lead with seven goals in the playoffs, while Guentzel leads the League with 16 points and Crosby is second with 15. The Capitals must contain Pittsburgh’s top trio to have success.
5. Don’t Lay Back
It was true against Columbus, and it’s even truer against the Pens: the Capitals have to ban the turtle! The Capitals cannot go into a defensive shell when they get a lead. Instead of changing their game to a defensive posture, the Capitals have to keep their foot on the gas when they have the lead.
The Caps need to they play to win if they want to beat Pittsburgh. The Capitals led for 44:27 of Game 1 but still lost. They led for a big majority of the Columbus series and yet they still lost two games. The Capitals must keep playing with a two-goal lead if they expect to win.
“We’ve had good starts and good first periods, but you’ve got to find a way to close out those games in the playoffs.”—Tom Wilson on protecting leads. Wilson also talked about containing the #Pens’ quick-strike offense. #CapsPens pic.twitter.com/YzlkLuYyW7
— Tarik El-Bashir⌨🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) April 28, 2018
So, no changes.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 28, 2018
— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) April 28, 2018
By Harrison Brown