-Greetings on another chilly day on the last day of spring. It's in the mid-30s and there are a few flurries of snowflakes. It's mostly a bitter, windy day. Winter is going out kicking and screaming.
-The Penguins will try to extend their winning streak to 10 games tonight against a struggling rival. This might be Penguins-Capitals, but its not Penguins-Capitals. This isn't 2009. This is a down time in this rivalry. When the Penguins stunk in the mid 2000s, Penguins-Flyers wasn't anything special. This rivalry will return to it's white-hot intensity some day, but for the time being, this is just another game on the schedule.
-The Penguins have some question marks in terms of who will be in the lineup tonight. Evgeni Malkin ("upper-body") and Kris Letang ("lower body") are definitely out. There seems to be some question mark however on Matt Cooke who skipped today's practice. Dan Bylsma, as usual, proclaimed his entire lineup as a game-time decision but acknowledged the potential for using seven defensemen today.
-With Letang out of the lineup, that pretty much guarantees the potential for Simon Despres to get back in the lineup and command significant minutes, potentially on the power play. Without Letang, you need someone to replace a little bit of that skill.
-There doesn't seem to be a great deal of concern over the nature of Letang's ailment. According to folks far more connected than us, Letang's injury seems to be an aggrivation of a previous ailment.
-Getting back to the rivalry point, Braden Holtby, the expected starter in net for the Capitals' net, had an interesting take on how the Capitals are approaching this game:
The Capitals have some massive health issues on defense with Mike Green, Tom Poti, John Erskine and Tomas Kundratek are each sidelined due to various ailments. As a result, Steve Olesky and Dmitry Orlov, each of whom have spent the bulk of the season in the AHL, are going to be pressed into duty. We would expect the Penguin to try and take advantage of match-ups tonight with the last change for faceoffs before whistles.
-The Great Joe Vitale graces the cover of Ice Time:
-We always seem to run into a Craig Adams fan:
-Old Mark Eaton:
-Sidney Crosby is kind of popular:
-As is Darius Kasparaitis:
-Fans entering the barn:
-There are a few Capitals fans on hand. Brooks Laich has a fan in the house for his season debut:
-If you're a John Carlson fan, you're alright:
-Noted Penguins fan Cy "Malkinmania" Clark offers a terse assessment of where Washington captain Alex Ovechkin's is in his career:
-Former Penguins and Capitals forward Rick Tocchet:
-Mario Lemieux Laval:
-Marc-Andre Fleury Team Canada:
-You don't see too many Joe Mullen jerseys in the "Snoop Dogg" style:
-A many with playoff heroics against the Capitals in the postseason, Luc Robitaille:
-This is a nice jersey. The team USA jersey of former Penguins forward Mark Johnson, the son of former Penguins coach "Badger" Bob Johnson:
-Jersey of the Night: Dave Hannan:
-The Capitals are wearing their Rod Langway white throwback uniforms.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.
-The Capitals' starters are Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner, Steve Olesky and Braden Holtby.
-Their scratches are Joey Crabb, Aaron Volpatti and Wojtek Wolski.
-We missed taking a photo of Jeff Jimerson offering the national anthem so we'll just used an old video of him doing it:
13:19: Off a win by Backstrom in the left faceoff circle of the offensive zone, Ovechkin grips and rips a wrister on net from just above the circle. Fleury's left leg kicks it out.
12:26: Tyler Kennedy tries to run Ovechkin in front of the Washington bench. Ovechkin braces for the hit and
12:14: Off a pseudo three-on-two, Mathieu Perreault deals a pass to Jason Chimera wide open in the right circle. Chimera has year and acre of ice to shoot and rips a wrister to the far side. Fleury's right leg kicks it out with a "thud." Kunitz plays the rebound out of danger. Big save.
9:48: Alzner chucks a wrister from the right point which Fleury kicks aside with his right skate.
6:59: Matt Hendricks chucks a wrister from the left point to the far side. Fleury steers it to the right wing with his left skate. Fehr follows up on the rebound and lifts a clunky wrister on net. Fleury fights it off. That looked like a "POP" or "Pass Off Pads" attempt by Hendricks.
5:50: Martin cranks a slapper from the right point which hits something in front of the cage. The rebound sits loose for a second before Dmitry Orlov skates it out of danger.
4:38: Perreault chops a one-timer from the slot which Jeffrey blocks. Perreaul is able to recover the rebound, spin away from Jeffrey and slide a weak shot on net. Fleury covers to freeze play.
4:05: Crosby pushes the puck up the right wing on a three-on-two with Dupuis and Kunitz. As Dupuis drives to the cage, Crosby rips a wrister from the right circle. Holtby fends it off despite a screen.
3:34: Deryk Engelland races up the right wing and chucks a wrister on net. Holtby eats it up.
2:13: Fleury is standing tall. off a give-and-go with Johansson on a three-on-two, Perreault chops a little slapper from the right circle. Fleury reads it all the way and hugs the puck against his chest.
1:08: Dupuis sneaks in off the right wing on a partial two-on-one with Crosby against Olesky. As Olesky slides out of the play, Dupuis deals a pass to Crosby who seems to have the net open on the back door but before he can even get a stick on the puck, Troy Brouwer hustles back and stick checks Crosby. Tremendous play.
0:19: A late power play for the Capitals. Ovechkin is tripped up by Bennett in the left circle. That's two minutes. Crosby, Orpik, Martin and Adams take the ice.
0:02: Carlsson chucks a wrister from the right point which his blocked in front.
0:00: End of period. Capitals 0, Penguins 0.
-Overall, that was a fun, entertaining period of hockey. The Penguins started out strong and raced out to a 5-0 lead in shots. Eventually, things leveled off and the Capitals took back a little momentum. Both teams traded some quality chances and got some even better goaltending.
-Dustin Jeffrey seemed to create a few things offensively. He set up some chances for Neal and Eaton with some strong passes.
-Something seemed to be a tad off with Crosby, Dupuis and Kunitz. They weren't quite as impressive that period as they were in previous games.
-The blue line has looked fairly sharp without Kris Letang. THere weren't any defensive liabilities but at the same time, that element of puck movement Letang was absent was absent.
-The Washington patchwork blue line didn't seem too overwhelmed by the Penguins.
-The Penguins have an 11-10 edge in shots.
-Perreault leads the game with three.
-Martin and Neal each lead the Penguins with two.
-Crosby leads the game with 8:33 of ice time.
-Carlson leads the Capitals with 8:10.
-The Capitals have a 9-6 lead in faceoffs (60 percent).
-Perreault is 2 for 3 (67 percent).
-Brandon Sutter is 2 for 3 (67 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
20:00: The Capitals will have 1:41 of power-play time on fresh ice to start the period. Martin, Orpik, Adams and Dupuis take the ice.
19:32: Ribeiro sneaks up the right wing and deals a pass across the front of the blue paint. The puck appears to flutter a bit after Ribeiro's release and Ovechkin can't get a clean stick on the bouncer. The puck rolls around. Backstrom recovers it in the right circle and rips a wriste ron net. Fleury eats it up.
18:19: The Bennett minor is killed. Washington generated only one shot on net.
17:09: Olesky chucks a wrister from the
16:56: Henricks dodges a check above the left circle and whips a wrister just wide of the net.
16:50: Fleury comes up big with the Capitals buzzing around the zone. Backstrom snaps off a wrister from above the right circle. Fleury gloves it. Washington dominated puck possession that shift.
16:12: Ovechkin hustles into the offenisve zone on the left wing and snaps off a wrister which Orpik blocks.
14:50: Off a rush up the left wing, Kunitz pumps a wrister on net. Holtby snares it.
13:11: Another Washington power play as Kunitz is nabbed for tripping Olesky. Orpik, Sutter, Martin and Cooke take the ice.
11:46: A lucky bounce leads to a Capitals' goal. Ribeiro rushes up the right wing, spins off a check and deals a pass to Brouwer above the right circle. Brouwer pounds a one-timer which hits off the butt or hip of Niskanen in front of the blue paint. The puck bounces to Ovechkin in the left circle. Ovechkin swats it immediately on net. The puck flutters in off the near post and into the cage. A few things went right there for the Capitals. Brouwer and Ribeiro get assists. Capitals 1-0.
10:49: The Penguins get a chance to respond as Chimera hooked up Jeffrey in the Capitals' zone. That's two minutes. Crosby, Neal, Martin, Niskanen and Kunitz take the ice.
9:57: Martin strikes a quick slapper from the right point. Holtby gloves it.
9:52: Crosby takes a pass on the right wing and whacks a slapper on net from the cirrcle. Holtby traps it against his body.
9:33: Taking a pass in the right circle from Martin, Crosby puts a one-timer on net. It glances off the near post.
8:53: Paul Martin to the rescue. Bennett has a chance down low to the left of the cage but fumbles the puck. Carlson is right there and pokes the puck bud does to right to Crosby. Crosby calmly takes the puck and and distribute to Martin at center point. Martin hammers a one-timer which sails by the glove hand of Holtby and hits twine. What a shot by Martin. What a composed play by Crosby. Crosby and Bennett get assists. Not sure how Bennett gets an assist considering he lost the puck. The "Hey Song" is played. Capitals 1, Penguins 1.
7:01: Attendance is announced as 18,653. It is the team's 269th consecutive sellout.
6:33: Despres chase a puck behind his net. With Jay Beagle giving chase and Fehr offering support on the forecheck, he's able to bank the puck off the left wing boards and up ice out of danger. What a nice, subtle play to get the puck out of danger.
6:11: After an icing call, the Capitals call a timeout to get a breather.
5:31: Ovechkin races up the left wing boards one-on-one against Martin. Martin keeps pace and taps the puck off his blade with a stick on puck.
4:40: Off a three-on-two rush, Carlson gets a little pace on the right wing and lifts a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up.
3:55: Perreault tries to batle for a puck behind the Penguins' net but is planted into the end boards by Orpik for his troubles.
2:48: Cooke takes a pass on the left wing, gains the offensive zone and chops a slapper on net
2:25: Ovechkin challenges Orpik and Martin one-on-two, waits for Johansson to join the play an rips a wrister from the left circle which Martin blocks.
2:01: Olesky collects a pass at the right point, fakes a slapper, gets Sutter to slide down and whips a wrister juuuuust wide on the far side.
1:42: Ovechkin tries to deke around Orpik on the right wing boards but is shoved the ice by Orpik. That elicits an enthusiastic cheer.
0:48: Another late penalty for the Penguins as the great Joe Vitale trips up Fehr in the left wing corner of the Capitals' zone. Dupuis, Sutter, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
0:23: Dupuis leads a shorthand rush up the left wing and has his wrister blocked by Carlson.
0:00: End of period. Capitals 1, Penguins 1.
-That was more of the same from the first period. Each team traded chances and got some solid saves. The only difference was a little more success on the power play for each team.
-The Crosby/Dupuis/Kunitz line has been fairly bottled up tonight. Washington just hasn't given that trio a ton to work with in terms off time and space to work with.
-James Neal was nearly invisible that period. He has now gone 15 periods without a goal.
-Paul Martin is having another wonderful game. Even if you forget about his impressive goal, he's been pretty willing to fire the puck. Defensively, he has bottled Ovechkin up pretty well in terms of five-on-five play. He has stepped up in the absence of Letang.
-The Penguins have a 24-21 lead in shots.
-Martin leads the game with four shots.
-Fehr and Perreault each lead the game with three shots.
-Carlson leads the game with 18:39 of ice time.
-Martin leads the Penguins with 18:18.
-The Penguins have a 21-19 lead in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Sutter is 6 for 7 (86 percent).
-Hendricks is 4 for 4 (100 percent).
-Niskanen, Martin, Despres, Hendricks and Carlson each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Capitals will have 1:12 of power-play time on fresh ice. Cooke, Adams, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
18:56: Ovechkin lifts a wrister from the bove the left circle which Adams blocks.
18:48: The Vitale minor is killed. The Penguins allowed little during that chance.
18:10: Crosby races into the offensive zone, fights off a check from Olesky and whips a wrister on net from the left circle. Holtby fights it off.
17:16: Beagle sweeps a little backhander on net from the left circle. Fleury gloves that.
16:26: Racing after a puck dumped into the right wing corner, Glass drops Jeff Schultz into the boards witha stiff shoulder on shoulder check.
15:48: Kennedy lofts a wrister from the right wing on net. Holtby steers it away.
14:38: Hitting is starting to pick up. Chasing after a dump in into the Capitals' zone, Bennett drops Hillen with a hit into the end boards.
14:14: Alzner smacks a slapper from the right point wide on the near side.
14:04: Despres is in deep on the right wing and sneaks a backhander on net. Holtby kicks it out.
12:28: Schultz whips a wrister from the left point which hits a cluster of bodies in front.
12:11: A bad spot here for the Penguins. Ovechkin controls a puck in the left wing corner of the offensive zone. Cooke engages him with a hit from the side. Ovechkin falls in th the boards. Officials call boarding. Cooke protests the call a little too much an gets an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Not a smart second penalty for cooke tot take. the boarding minor is dubious, to be kind. Washington will have four minutes of power play time. Adams, Crosby, Martin and Orpik take the ice.
10:45: Ovechkin glieds in off the rwing win gna has the puck stripped on a backcheck by Sutter. Sutter turns and whips the puck down ice to kill time.
9:27: Ovechkin has a pass attempt from the left circle blocked by Engelland.
9:11: Huge play. Fehr whacks a one-timer from the left circle. Fleury bats it away with his glove. The rebound kicks to Ovechkin in the left circle. Ovechkin whips it on net low. Fleury kicks it out. Dupuis turns and whips the rebound down ice and out of danger.
8:41: Off a steal by Sutter in the netural zone, he deal ass to Adams in the left circle. Adams spin and lifts a wrister which is wide.
8:11: The Penguins kill off both Cooke minors and home crowd offers a hearty standing applause for the effort.
8:02: Wow... Just wow... What a sequence. Cooke leads a three-on-two rush up the left wing. With Crosby driving to the cage, Cooke deals to Niskanen trailing in the slot. Niskanen hold the puck, looks up and rips a wrister by the glove hand of Holtby. This place erupts in bedlam. Matt Cooke gets some redemption. The Penguins get their first lead. Wow. Cooke and Crosby get assists. The "Hey Song" is nearly drowned out. Penguins 2-1.
7:54: During a television stoppage, "FLERRR-EEEE!" chants rain down.
6:51: Engelland has a slapper from the right point blocked by Hendricks.
6:28: Kennedy steeals a pass by Carlson from teh Washington zone and snaps off a wrister wide to the far side.
5:29: Olesky strikes a slapper from the left point which hits a body in front.
5:17: On a three-on-two rush, Ovehcin has a wriste from the slot denied on a backchecking Dupuis who strips the puck with a poke check.
4:43: Perreault takes a pass in the left cirlce and lifts a wrister whch hits a stick and deflects out of play.
4:16: Sutter snaps off a wrister from teh right circle. Holtby gloves it.
3:42: With the Capitals pressuring, Eaton is able to banks a puck from the left wing corner of his own zone off the boards and down ice with a backhander. Nice, nifty play to get a change.
2:49: Cooke pushes the puck in deep on the right wing and sneaks a wrister on net. Holtby kicks it out.
2:37: Olesky snaps off a wrister from the right half wall. Backstrom is in front on a moving screen and appears to re-direct it wide.
2:20: Chimera lifts wrister from above the right circle over the cage.
1:12: The Penguins ice the puck. With a faceoff in the Penguins' zone, the Capitals pull Holtby for an extra attacker.
0:44: Fehr goes wide on the left wing and sweeps a backhander on net. Fleury covers it with the world crashing his crease.
0:39: Backstrom wins a faceoff in the left circle of the Penguins' zone. Ovechkin take sth epuck and wires a slapper. Fleury sees it all the way and eats it up.
0:15: Carlson chucks a wrister from the right point. Martin blocks it.
0:08: Crosby gets a chance in the neutral zone with an open cage and flings a wrister down ice which hits the right post.
0:02: Laich is called for interference against Sutter. That all but ends the Capitals' hopes.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Capitals 1.
-It wasn't a work of art. There were a few warts on this one. But it's a win. And a 10th consecutive win to boot. The Penguins are rolling. The showed they could take get past injuries to two of their most valuable players as well as some late penalties to get a win.
-The theme for this winning streak has been the sources of offense. The Penguins have gotten goals from nearly every part of the lineup. Tonight, it was two defensemen delivering the offense.
-One of the hallmarks of the Blackhawks' record streak of games with a point to start the season was getting offense from the entire team. It wasn't just Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane getting key goals for them. It was also grinders like Daniel Carcillo or average second-liners like Viktor Stalberg. The Penguins are getting similar contributions. THeir last three-game winning goals have come from a rookie (Beau Bennett), a fourth-liner (the great Joe Vitale) and a defenseman (Matt Niskanen).
-How clutch was the Penguins' much maligned penalty kill, especially in the third period with that four-minute power play. You saw a wide variety of players from Pascal Dupuis to Deryk Engelland to Brandon Sutter doing anything and everything to deny the Capitals a scoring chance. This has to be a big boost in confidence for that group.
-The beauty of this winning streak is that the Penguins have done it despite seeing Sidney Crosby get shutout twice, James Neal go without a goal and have dealt with injuries to Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.
-Marc-Andre Fleury was spectacular tonight. If not for a bad hop off Matt Niskanen, he has another shutout. He came up big with some huge saves during that four-minute power play by the Capitals. Don't overlook his contributions to this winning streak.
-Matt Cooke and Niskanen each got a little redemption the game-winning goal. After taking a selfish second penalty for arguing his boarding call, Cooke was able to set up Niskanen. And Niskanen was able to cash in with the winning goal after having a bad hop off his body set up Washington's only goal.
-Paul Martin was outstanding. As we said earlier, even if you ignore his goal, he presented a dangerous threat on offense with his willingness to shoot. And what he did on defense to night was just special. He was keyed in on Ovechkin most of the game and limited his scoring chances. He stepped up in the absence of Letang.
-James Neal was next to invisible tonight outside of a decent shot in the first period. He's gone 16 periods without a goal. It couldn't be more obvious what Malkin means to his production.
-We expected the Capitals' blue line to be a weakness tonight but it played pretty well with some inexperienced players in the lineup. Steve Olesky and Dmitry Orlov looked VERY confident for two players thrown into a game against the best team in th Eastern Conference. They took chances but didn't hurt their team in terms of lapses in their own zone.
-Braden Holtby was pretty strong as well for the Capitals. He probably should have made the save on Niskanen's goal but looking past that, he turned away a LOT of good chances by the Capitals.
-The Penguins led in shots, 36-29.
-Eric Fehr led in shots with five.
-Niskanen, Martin, Cooke and Crosby each led the Penguins with four shots.
-Martin led the game with 28:14 of ice time.
-John Carlson led the Capitals with 27:42.
-The Capitals had a 31-30 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Hendricks was 6 for 6 (100 percent).
-Crosby was 16 for 26 (62 percent).
-Engelland led the game with five blocked shots.
-Hendricks led the Capitals with three blocked shots.
-Overall, the Penguins had a very Tortorellaian effort in blocked shots tonight with 24 to the Capitals' 13.
-The Penguins have won 10 consecutive games. It's the first time in NHL history a team had has winning streaks of 10 or more games in three consecutive seasons.
-Crosby recorded his 200th multi-point game and 100th-multi-assist game.
-Martin tied a career-best with his sixth goal of the season. He previously reached the mark as a rookie in 2003-04 with the Devils.
-While it was only three games, the Penguins swept a season series against the Capitals for only the third time. The previous occasion was in 2006-07 (4-0-0)