Capitals Shutout By Penguins, 4-0, in 2023-24 Season-Opener; Lars Eller Returns to Capital One Arena

Photo: @Capitals/X

The Washington Capitals fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 4-0 in their season opener Friday night at Capital One Arena. It marked their first home opener in franchise history in which the Capitals have been shut out. The loss starts the Capitals’ 2023-24 record at 0-1-0 on the season. Goaltender Charlie Lindgren made 31 saves in the loss.

Lines & Pairs

Alex Ovechkin — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J Oshie
Connor McMichael — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Sonny Milano — Dylan Strome — Matthew Phillips
Beck Malenstyn — Nic Dowd — Anthony Mantha

Rasmus Sandin — John Carlson
Martin Fehervary — Trevor van Riemsdyk
Lucas Johansen — Nick Jensen

Charlie Lindgren
Clay Stevenson

Injuries: Defenseman Joel Edmundson (hand; injured reserve) and forward Max Pacioretty (Achilles; long-term injured reserve)

Transactions: The Capitals recalled Stevenson from the AHL’s Hershey Bears and loaned forward Aliaksei Protas to Hershey earlier on Friday.

First Period

The opening frame went by scoreless. During the TV timeout, the Capitals honored former center Lars Eller in his first return to the District.

Quick Stats

SOG: 10-8 Penguins

Face-Off Win %: 56% (Penguins), 44% (Capitals)

Hits: 7-6 Penguins

Second Period

The Penguins would get on the board first with a goal from center Evgeni Malkin at the 4:07 mark.

At the 5:51 mark, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby would extend his team’s lead, 2-0, on the man advantage.

Crosby would score his second of the night a little over halfway through the period on another power-play opportunity, giving Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.

Quick Stats

Total SOG: 23-15 Penguins

Face-Off Win %: 54% (Penguins), 45% (Capitals)

Total Hits: 12-10 Capitals

Third Period

Right-wing Reilly Smith would give the Penguins a 4-0 lead late in the final frame.

That would be the final.

Quick Stats

Total SOG: 35-19 Penguins

Face-Off Win %: 55% (Penguins), 44% (Capitals)

Total Hits: 18-15 Capitals

The Capitals next host the Calgary Flames at Capital One Arena on Monday. Monumental Sports Network will have the coverage beginning at 7 PM ET.

By Della Young

About Della Young

Della Young is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter who earned a BFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University in 2021. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Screenwriting from Regent University. Della comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for hockey in 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on X: @dellayoung
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37 Responses to Capitals Shutout By Penguins, 4-0, in 2023-24 Season-Opener; Lars Eller Returns to Capital One Arena

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well that was special

  2. Anonymous says:

    Backstrom can not keep up with play, either can Oshie.
    Kuzy is turning into Semin
    Carlson – WTF

    GMBM what a beautiful turd you have created

    • franky619 says:

      And what the f***k is he doing on the first line? Getting almost exclusively offensive zone starts leaving Kuzy and Strome mostly with defensive zone starts. Ovie’s best scoring chance came on a pass from Strome and they played together for about 10 sec. And for the love of god get him off the 1st PP unit and replace him by Strome.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah I really didn’t understand that. Those lines looked so whack. Strome and Backstrom should be switched around, and so should Wilson and Oshie. Old guys played like old guys. Go figure. Sure would help if you didn’t give them top assignments.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Spencer in his post game interview is like “what did I get myself into?” total deer in head lights

    • Anonymous says:

      Not good.

    • natsmachine says:

      “Deer in the headlights?”. WTF interview were you watching? He was cool, calm, and collective in absolute sh%$show on ice. That is all.

      • grudensucked says:

        He’s just trying to show GMBM what a turd roster he’s put together. That’s why he played Mantha. Once BMac realizes the weakness thruout his roster he has no choice but to force personnel changes

        • Anonymous says:

          Sorry guys but where is the Cap room to bring in better players. In June what the GM should have done was buy out both Mantha and Backstrom and possible Carlson and Oshie. Not sign a guy who is still on LTIR and no one know when or IF he will be back this year and like I said earlier Edmundson was a wasted signing. They held unto some players way to long and now at their ages and salaries no one wants them in trade. With the shit storm of tonight and 81 more to go and the owner stuck with this roster because he does not want to make any changes to hurt Ovies chance to break the goal scoring record; well it looks like it may take all 3 years for him to score his needed 73 goals and at 38 how much longer will he be affective with Backy as his center? Seems like the Gm and owner are dollar poor this hockey season and have players with way to much age todo much. However on the bright side you can buy Teds new tv channel and give him more money!! And anyone who thinks this team is getting better after watchig tonight is in for a surprise this and next and probably for the next 5 years.

      • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        You mean the part when he said “we have to work on the other stuff” or pretty much responded to one of the questions with “there are hundreds of situations on the ice….” because he could not name one from the game? Watch his eyes and face, you can tell he was struggling to answer with anything other than generic bs answers. At one point he babbled. No one said he was crying or freaking out, look at his face….dear in head lights. Embarrassment. You may wanna turn around and face the same direction as Spencer, if last night did not do it for you at least bend over and kiss your…..good bye

        At the end of the day, it’s not on Spencer, its GMBM. Spencer can only work with what he has been given. Best thing Spencer can do is bench Mantha and put Backstrom and Oshie on the 4th line. Both struggled to keep up with “the pace” Spencer talks about. Oshie did a little better than Backstrom who did bad.

        Notice how 1st period we dominated play in the Pens zone….as soon as the Pens saw what we were doing they reacted and adapted. We had no answer to that adaption which created aodd man rushes. Caps were playing a hybrid run and gun game which does not work in the NHL anymore. That’s is why the Caps D were in the o-zone so much and kept getting caught behind the play. This team does not have the speed to play that kind of game.

        I’m sure the Caps will remain just enough relevant to sacrifice a good draft pick next year while pretending to be a competitive team with below- par results.

        No coach could win with this roster. If we want the best value for our dead weight that opportunity won’t come until trade deadline. If we make trades now we will have to include youth and likely get less in return. Caps need to focus on getting Ovie goals and tank. Spencer should look at this year as a opportunity for development of a more complete system. Seems like the current one only has a few components.

        Our D is pretty soft when it comes to being physical which means our goalies could probably charge rent in their crease since players from other teams will be staying there so often.

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree that NO coach could (or will) win with this roster. Sad you are wrong on the trade deadline as who wants any of the older players as their salary is just to high. The time is in June to buy out Oshie, Backstrom, Carlson and yes maybe even Kuempre (although if he has a good year someone may take a flyer on him at the trade deadline). I have this sinking feeling that the GM is going to make a huge move (and blunder) and do his usual in trading picks and young players for more washed up players.

          Also they do not need to focus on getting Ovie goals to tank as this team at best is a 25 win team. At best!! Toss in a few injuries that will happen and you might not even see 20! The delusion that this team is a playoff team or a contender for the Cup comes from the short now thin man in the owners box and a GM who is past his time.

          I thought for sure that when they brought in a new HC the would also bring in a new Gm with new ideas. Maybe after this season we will get new blood and ideas in the front office and just maybe Ted will stay the heck out of the office where he knows nothing!!

        • novafyre says:

          I have often wondered (and I think posted so in previous years) just who has what responsibility and authority in the Caps organization. Who makes what call. What authority does Spencer have? Could he on his own bench Nicky or Mantha? Take them out of the roster? In both my careers I have often gone to my boss with a plan I thought I had been given authority to come up with only to be overruled and forced to implement something else.

  4. DC Scappeli says:

    well that game just sucked the big purple toad. it’s game one and a long season ahead. If nothing changes by game 10 or looks even promising, then this long season is gonna really be long! Ugh, what a mess.

    • Anonymous says:

      What the owner does not want to hear and fails to understand about sports is that it is not like his other business where you can keep people there for year and they will be productive. Also just spending money does nothing except guarantee that your cap hit is high and you will have trouble getting in players or even trading players. So folks belly up to the bar, grab several beers and as you saw tonight, this is what you are going to see then next 3 years until Ovie retires and Backy, Oshie and Carlson can be unloaded. I anticipate a lot of money spent next summer in buying out contracts.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s only the first game, easy adjustments can be made. My first recommendation. Don’t have your top line be comprised entirely of guys over the age of 36.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you said about the 1st line. However outside of moving players to different spots in the lineup what else can be done as not buying out Mantha and Backstrom in June have crippled this team this year and maybe next also.

      • Anonymous says:

        Same guy from original: Yeah the team really tied their hands behind their back with these awful contracts. I get Backy is a franchise legend, Ovi’s best friend and all, and they don’t wanna upset him, but at this point Backy has become a liability. I do think he can (and should) play 3rd line well, but he’s making way too much money to justify that. Plus it’s just continuing to hold back CMC who now has to play the wing.
        I’ve tried to be patient with Mantha, but at this point it seems he’s not going to recapture his old form. At least not here. He shoulda been dealt. Also the blue line can stand to benefit from Edmundson’s return, and getting rid of Jensen, or at least relegating him to the 7th spot. Alexeyev should also be in over LuJo. The blue line in general can benefit from a shakeup. At the end of the day, it is what it is. These are the cards we’ve been dealt, and it’s up to GMBM and HCSC to make due.

  6. Steve C says:

    Let me see if I’ve got this right – we pay $10.99 a month to watch games like this?

    • Anonymous says:

      On Teds new station it will be $19.99 to watch this pitiful mess. So enjoy the “retool” for 3 years and then the rebuild for 5-7!

  7. grudensucked says:

    This is a bad team. Esp on defense. Nick Jensen probably cannot bench the bar. Like a plateless bar. He is soooo weak. Same with Lucas J and Sandin. Neither one wins any 1 on 1 puck battles or crease battles. One of the worst defensive corps in the league I think.

    AA is better than at least 3 of our dumbos

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. Which is why I say get rid of Jensen. Some fool will look at his ”fancy analytics” and take him on. Run these pairings when Edmundson is back and healthy:

      Looks a lot tougher and balanced on paper, than whatever we got tonight.

      • Anonymous says:

        thinking….NO, let them go with the terrible lineups all year and then maybe we get a top 5 pick in the draft. With growing pains and buyouts we should also be getting a top 5 pick in 24/25 and probably 25/26. They we can say goodbye to all the high salaries except Wilson and start fresh. I would rather see them play this way for several years and get some high and hopefully good draft picks then squeak into the playoffs only to lose in the first round and get average players in the draft.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can tolerate losing if there is a purpose like what the Orioles did. Not this “retooling” just to make the owner feel good. Watch his marketing as soon he will be going back to the marketing before Ovie was here; Come seethe star players on other teams!!

  8. andrew777dc says:

    I am just blown out. Hard to find positives in this game. Good first period? Who are you kidding? Chucky bailed us out some? But why did he have to have all this work to do? And he froze up or got discombobled on the goals scored. Don’t even wanna list all the bad areas, it’s just too depressing. Wonder if that 1st line gets changed up soon, as well as the Carly-Sandy pairing. Jens was just plain terrible. Mantha – when is he going? Ugh…

  9. Anonymous says:

    One game results in panic and being at each other’s throats. Funny.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t call it panic but frustration that the team we want to root for sucks. It was easy to see from last year that it would suck. But it is frustrating to us to know that the hard decisions that need to be made to make it better weren’t made and likely will not be made.

      • andrew777dc says:

        Exactly. We might see a coupla good games, but generally, I have this sinking feeling… Literally, sinking.

        • andrew777dc says:

          I mean, after what was a pretty encouraging preseason (despite the lack of moves most had been waiting for; in terms of play and roster “rejuvenation”), all this talk about “who we are as a team, our identity”, a lot to prove, pace, connectedness, etc. – what do we have, phony-baloney?
          And I am concerned about the lineup, some pretty obvious things like Backy centering the first line instead of Strome, Oshie there as well, Carly and Sandy together (what do we call ‘em, the gaffeD pair?), etc. The veterans’ speed, including when coming back, own zone breakdowns – these things were obvious from the start, and yet, Carbs sticks to the same weird line and D pair decisions, structural things are not getting fixed. My Q now is: does he have what it takes to turn a game around when it’s not going to plan? Does he have a Plan B, Plan C, like Trotz always seemed to have? Yes, one doesn’t become a Barry Trotz overnight, and even in a decade or so, but still, does this coaching staff really have it?… And it all goes back to the GM, of course.

  10. horn73 says:

    Jon, you need to make it so you can’t comment without signing in. Doesn’t cost anything to come up with a made-up name to represent yourself. But I read 2 anonymous post and then just read the ones with names. Positive or negative comments are close to useless without knowing who is writing, especially here where 80% are annonymous.

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