Photo: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images
What a win by the boys in red, winning 4-3 against the deadly Pittsburgh Penguins. Before the game even began, I was thinking even if the Washington Capitals were slightly outplayed by the underlying numbers then that would be okay. In fact it would be a win.
Playing the Penguins in Pittsburgh is hard enough, let alone in a tied playoff series. So I was kind of expecting the Capitals to lose the possession and chances battle, but they actually did quite well.
For possession, the Capitals barely won, with a bit over 52% Corsi, but what’s most impressive, is their 56.11% scoring chance percentage and 77.48% high danger percentage. They held the Pens to all of 1 high danger chances in each period.
The 3rd period was absolutely dominated by the Caps: 63CF%, 70SCF%, and 82HDCF%. When the game mattered most, the Capitals showed up.
Here you can see a more visual map of how well the Capitals got to the slot, to get their chances, and limited the Penguins pretty well.
The Capitals started the game well in terms of getting some good chances at 5v5 via expected goals, but had a rough patch from the mid 1st to mid 2nd, though there were three penalties called in that span, which limited 5v5 chances.
But after that lull, the Caps really woke up and overtook the Pens about five minutes into the 3rd and dominated the game from there on out.
Maybe most impressive fact is the Capitals held Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in check when it came to expected goals. Together they added up to just 0.10 expected goals. If you do that every game against the Pens, you will give yourself a great chance to win.
As a bonus, Jakub Vrana needs to play way more, as proved above. In the 3rd period, Barry Trotz saw Vrana was putting up chances and smartly increased his time and it paid off. This should be done more often. Vrana is a deadly offensive player that can change the game with his speed and skill. Trotz would be smart to give him more chances.
But that’s just game 3. The Caps are only up 2-1 in the series. They need to win 2 of the next 4 against the repeating Cup winning champions. That will not be easy at all. You can bet the Pens will come out flying in game 4. They’ll be at home in front of an angry crowd that may or may not want to kill Tom Wilson. But if the Capitals can repeat what they did in game 3 they should come out winners in game 4.
By Luke Adomanis