Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Penguins Game 31 Recap - Penguins 2, Capitals 1
-Ten wins in a row. This was much like the previous few games for the Penguins where they didn't throw up a bunch of goals but were able to play some pretty solid defense to go along with a great penalty kill and get outstanding goaltending. Pretty much all facets of the game were there tonight and while they did have some lulls in the game where the Capitals had some really good chances it was just another great win in a span of great wins. Feels good. Feels real good.
-Marc-Andre Fleury again was the number one star of the night. The big highlight package of the game will be the huge penalty kill effort that resulted in the eventual game winning goal but MAF was on his "A" game the entire night. The Capitals got the first goal off a shot block that went right to Alexander Ovechkin on the power play but other than that Fleury just continued to play good, under control, hockey that he has been doing the last four or five games. He made 28 saves and looks as confident as ever.
-If MAF was the number one start tonight (he wasn't on the official three star sheet but he should have been) then you could probably give it to the entire penalty kill unit. With the game time at one with about 12 minutes left Matt Cooke took a penalty on a pretty bad border call then got rung up for two more minutes for expressing his concerns with the official after. Four minutes of power play for a top five power play in the league and all the Penguind did was suffocate the Capitals into having no really good shots. Moreover it got the Penguins unlimited confidence and really got the crowed into it and as Cooke came out of the box he joined the rush to make it 3-on-1 and earned the primary assist on a Matt Niskanen goal. Overall the PK killed 4-of-5 penalties and the only goal that was given up came when Niskanen blocked a shot and it went right to OV which is more bad luck than bad penalty killing. The PK has been worlds better the last few weeks and while it was just a matter of time before other power plays would score now it is a real confidence that the PK will shut it down.
-That being said Cook has to be smarter. The penalty was a pretty bad call and I have no problem with him going to talk to the official but to pick up an extra two minutes is just brutally stupid. Especially for how good that power play is. Sure, the Penguins killed it off but that doesn't mean it was OK to happen. Again, I understand why he was upset and I probably would have been too but you can't put your team in more of a hole by taking a second stupid penalty.
-After a couple of games of not getting a ton of shots the Penguins peppered Caps goaltender Braden Holtby with 36 shots. Holtby was pretty good for much of the game and really was the only reason the Caps had a chance but eventually he broke and in a game where the Caps needed at least a point it has to be disappointing to come away empty handed.
-A lot of good things from the defense. Brooks Orpik payed a much more controlled game on OV, Simon Despres played another really solid game, Deryk Engelland blocked five shots, Paul Martin scored the first Penguins goal on a nice bounce and setup by Sidney Crosby, and Niskanen scored the game winner after blocking a shot on the other end. With Kris Letang out everyone needs to set up their game and every did a nice job even though the Capitals aren't one of the better teams in the league.
-Just a good win. The Penguins now get a few days off and hopefully when they take the ice on Friday they will have the services of Evgeni Malkin and we have a better idea of when we all might see Letang back in the lineup.