It doesn't much matter what either team is going in the standings, when the Penguins and Capitals get together they are usually good games. Tonight was no different. While it is true that the networks are trying to push the Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry it doesn't discount that these teams really don't like each other and that makes for great games.
This game was back-and-forth all night starting with a Chris Kunitz goal 46 seconds in and ended with a ballsy PK effort for nearly the final two minutes of the game. The Penguins never trailed but allowed the Caps to tie it the first two times they had the lead. In the end it doesn't matter. The Caps aren't playing great hockey this year and the Penguins made sure they didn't allowed the home team to get a point. Good stuff.
Both Kunitz and Sidney Crosby scored their 30th goals of the season and Kunitz even chipped in his 31st of the season for the Penguins second goal. Both are top-five in the league in goal scoring now and after not recording a point and being a -5 a few nights ago Crosby had three points. It's almost like players can have a down game. Crazy.
A concerning bit of information from this game is that the Penguins got badly outshot, again. They finished the game with only 20 shots while Washington had 33. This hasn't been a problem at all during the season but the last four games the Penguins have had 19-22-17-20 shots. That is not good. At all. The Penguins are still getting points but really strange that they are just not getting pucks on the net. In the third period it seemed like the Penguins focused on shutting down Washington and holding the lead so you can maybe write that off but this is starting to become a trend that isn't good.
Nice job tonight by Jeff Zatkoff. He had a pretty rough finish to the game against San Jose late last week but came back to stop 31-of-33 shots including 17 shots in the second period. Zatkoff has been good as the backup this year and being able to forget the last game and bounce back is pretty huge for the Penguins. Obviously the Sharks are a much better team than Washington but you still have to focus up and get the win and Zatkoff was all business tonight.
Lee Stempniak with a pair of assists tonight. He looks pretty good with Crosby and Kunitz. I'll take it.
The Penguins have to turn around and play the Caps tomorrow. I am sure Washington will come out strong. No team likes to get swept in the season series and right now the Penguins are 3-0 against the Capitals and haven't let Washington earn a point in any of the games. Winning both games in a home-and-home is hard enough and sweeping a team four times during the season is harder. Would be nice to do so.