-Greetings on the dawn of the Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (and Nick Drazenovic) era. If you're not familiar with Letourneau-Leblond's work, this is pretty much his career "highlight" as an NHLer - a marathon fight with former Blues forward Cam Janssen in 2009-10:
-Letourneau-Leblond also attacked Captials forward Marcus Johansson a few years ago:
-Letourneau-Leblond an enforcer. There's no masking that. He's only in the NHL for those abilities. That said, considering he spent a good amount of time in the Devils' organization, he's a little more skilled than your average enforcer. The Devils are pretty good at developing players, even enforcers, into fairly competent assets on the ice.
-He can offer a team infinitely more than a Steve MacIntyre for instance. That's not exactly a very high bar to overcome, but if you want an enforcer in your lineup, Letourneau-Leblond is better than a lot of the players available for that role.
-The presumed debut of Nick Drazenovic creates an interesting bit of trivia for the Penguins. He'll be the eighth player from the 2005 draft to play for the Penguins. Drazenovic (171st overall) will join Sidney Crosby (No. 1), Matt Niskanen (No. 28), James Neal (No. 33), Kris Letang (No. 62), Cal O'Reilly (No. 150), Matt D'Agostini (No. 190) and the great Joe Vitale (No. 195). Defenseman Brenden Mikkelson (No. 31), is currently assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
-Kudos to @seth_greven for the heads up on that bit of trivia.
-We're not sure what the addition of "PL3" and Drazenovic means for Taylor Pyatt. Pyatt has been pretty ineffective in his handful of games with the Penguins. To make matters worse, he's taken three minor penalties which have put his team on the penalty kill. Despite being big (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), he doesn't seem to play a big game.
-Drazenovic's primary credentials for being recalled seemed to be being healthy and being a center. With the great Joe Vitale sidelined and Brandon Sutter being moved up to the right wing on the top line, the center position is pretty lean on the bottom two lines.
-We think the spelling is a bit off on this:
-Fans entering the barn:
-There are a few Capitals fans in the house. Mike Green:
-Ulf Samuelsson Whalers:
-Former Penguins/Capitals defenseman Sergei Gonchar has two fans here:
-Jersey (Foul) Of the Night: With so much drama in the LBC...:
-James Neal did not take warm ups. Taylor Pyatt skated in his place on the right wing on the second line.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Brandon Sutter, Kris Letang, Rob Scuderi and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Simon Despres, Chuck Kobasew and James Neal.
-The Capitals' starters are Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer, Eric Fehr, Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Michal Neuvirth.
-Their scratches are Martin Erat, Philipp Grubauer and Steve Olesky.
-Jeff Jimerson handles the national anthem:
19:31: Alzner tees up a slapper from the left point. Fleury fights it off. Fehr has a chance on the rebound but can't get a clean stick on it.
19:15: Hustling up the right wing, Crosby gains the offensive zone, veers to the slot and lifts a spinning backhander on net. Neuvirty fights it off.
18:26: Pushing the puck up the left wing and being greeted by boos, Alex Ovechkin snaps off a wrister wide to the far side.
17:36: John Erksine gets a way with a bit of a cross check from behind on Tanner Glass behind the Washington net.
16:33: A wrister by Mike Green from the right point is blocked out of play by Letourneau-Leblond.
15:30: Jussi Jokinen snaps off a shot/pass from the left wing to the net. Fehr blocks it.
15:00: After a turnover behind his own cage by Brooks Orpik, Ovechkin takes a little pas under the right circle from Mikhail Grabovski and lifts a wrister on net. Fleury knocks it dead and covers. Orpik owes Fleury a beer.
14:50: On the ensuing faceoff, Sutter takes a stick to the face. No penalty.
13:31: Fehr lifts a pedestrian wrister from above the left circle. Fleury eats it up.
13:06: Collecting a puck out of his own right wing corner, Dmitry Orlov is smacks into the boards by a hard forcheck by Zach Sill.
11:41: Off a feed by Crosby, Kunit snap off a wrister from the slot. Neuvirth kicks it out. Sutter can't fight off Alzner for the rebound.
11:03: Of some perimeter puck movement, Orpik whacks a slapper from the left point. Neuvirth makes the initial stop bu the puck roles on edge towards the net and comes t a dead stop right on the goal line.
10:58: Off the ensuing faceoff, Matt Niskanen hammers a slapper from center point. Neuvirth eats it up.
9:24: After Craig Adams force a turnover by Fehr with a hard forcehck into the Capitals' right wing corner, Letang chops a slapper from the right point. Neuvirth eats it up.
8:40: Crosby steals a bad pass by Neuvirth at the Penguins' blue line and deals a cross-ice pass to Kunitz on the right wing. Kunitz pushes the puck towards the net on a partial breakaway and lifts a backhander on net. Neuvirth fights it off.
7:57: Carrick chucks a wrister at the cage from the right point which hits something and deflects wide.
7:25: Skating with Malkin and Pyatt, Letourneau-Leblond lifts a wrister on net from the left circle. Neuvirth eats it up. Letourneau-Leblond exchanges pleasantries with John Erksine afterwards.
7:21: Off a set faceoff play, Maatta whacks a one-timer from the left point. It gets blocked in front.
7:12: The Penguins will get the first power play as Joel Ward is called for tripping Crosby. Malkin, Jokinen, Crosby, Letang and Kunitz take the ice.
6:41: Ugggleeeee. Letang tries to skate a puck out from behind his own net and deals a pass to Crosby or Malkin on the right wing of the neutral zone The pass fails to connect with anyone in particular and is stolen by Alzner. He taps the puck up ice off the left wing boards to Brooks Laich who skates in on net. He dodges a weak poke check attempt by Letang from his belly and snaps off a wrister behind Fleury. Put that one Letang all the way. Alzner gets the only assist. Capitals 1-0.
5:36: Letang chops one-timer from the right half wall wide of the cage.
5:18: Off a drop pass, Niskanen snaps off a wrister from the center point wide of the cage.
5:12: The Ward minor is killed.
4:33: Drazneovic is nabbed for tripping Ovechkin in the neutral zone. That's two minutes. Adams, Sutter, Deryk Engelland and Orpik take the ice.
4:17: Johansson tries to jam in a forehand shot from the right of the cage. No dice.
4:13: Ovechkin whacks a one-timer from the left circle wide of the cage.
3:40: Backstrom rips a wrister from the right circle off the near post.
3:23: Backstrom rips another wrister from the right circle. Fleury swats it away with his glove. Sutter is able to clear the rebound.
2:48: Off a steal by Letang, Sill pushes a puck up the right wing and attacks the Capitals net. He puts a backhander on net which Neuvirth kicks out. Glass is there for the rebound but overskates it.
2:38: Sill smacks Ovechkin into the Penguins' left wing boards.
2:33: The Drazenovic minor expires. The Capitals had some quality scoring chances.
0:39: Sutter digs a puck out from behind the Capitals' cage and tries to flip a backhander on net from the right wing. Neuvirth holds it out.
0:00: End of period. Capitals 1, Penguins 0.
-First things first, Ovechkin took a puck off the foot late in the period and limped to the bench as the horn sounded.
-If not for one massive foul-up by Letang, this is a tie game. This was a pretty even period of hockey all around. Both teams exchanged some quality chances and got some strong goaltending.
-The Penguins' lines were mixed and matched quite a bit. We'll say this though. Pyatt looked a thousand times better playing with Malkin than he did with anyone else. He used his sized quite a bit to do the dirty work in order to allow some scoring chances for Jokinen and Malkin.
-Letourneau-Leblond looked like he belong here for the most part. He blocked a shot and got physical.
-Speaking of physical, Zach Sill was very eager to throw his body around.
-Sutter looked comfortable on Crosby's wing. He kept up with Crosby and Kunitz for the most part.
-Neuvirth hasn't done anything spectacular but he's made every save seem easy.
-The Penguins have a 17-10 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 25-18 lead in attempted shots.
-Niskanen Kunitz and Ovechkin each lead the game with three shots.
-Carlson leads the game with 8:11 of ice time.
-Malkin leads the Penguins with 7:45.
-The Capitals have a 9-6 lead in faceoffs (60 percent).
-Troy Brouwer is 3 for 3 (100 percent).
-Malkin is 2 for 4 (50 percent).
-Engelland and Fehr each lead the game with two blocked shots.
-Dan Bylsma is on the cover of Icetime:
17:29: Adams chucks a wrister on net from the right wing. Neuvirth steers it away. Maatta jumps on the rebound and throws it at the cage. It hits a body and comes to rest. Drazenovic jumps on the rebound and chops it on net from below the left circle. Neuvirth eats it up.
16:11: Ovechkin pushes the puck up the left wing and fans a bit on a shot. Bortuzzo tries to stand him up but is thrown into the left wing corner for his trouble.
16:06: Carlson snaps off a wrister from the right point. Fleury snags it.
15:19: Jay Beagle snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Fleury snags it. Attendance is announced as 18,667. It is the team's 309th consecutive sellout.
14:48: Alzner rips a wrister from the left point which hits a body in front.
14:04: Gaining the offensive zone down the slot, Ovechkin flings a wrister on net. Fleury gloves it.
13:30: Drazenovic lifts a wrister from the left circle. Neuvirth snags it.
12:20: Off a cross-ice pass, Carlson chucks a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up despite traffic.
11:07: Laich tries to jam in a forehand shot from the right of the cage. Fleury holds it out.
10:40: Off a dominant shift in the Penguins' zone, Carlson snaps off wrister from a bad angle. Fleury eats it up to allow his team a much-needed change.
10:19: A slapper by Backsrom from the slot is off the mark.
10:07: Kris Letang giveth and he taketh. After Kunitz skates the puck out of his own zone to a Bronx cheer, he deals a pass to Glass on the right wing of the Capital zone. Glass then deals a pass to Crosby in the right circle. Then Crosby leaves a drop pass for Letang. Letang tries to feed a pass to Kunitz to the left of the cage but hits off the stick of Backstrom and deflects behind Neuvirth. Tie game. Letang gets one back after his turnover led to the Capitals' goal. Crosby and Glass get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Capitals 1, Penguins 1.
6:24: Off a backhanded feed by Backstrom, Orlov hammers a one-timer form the left half wall. Fleury boots it out.
6:07: Orlov rips a heavy wrister from the left Circe. Fleury snags it.
5:29: The Capitals get pretty with their passes and strike. Orlov snaps off a sharp cross-ice pass from the left point to Johansson in the right wing corner. Johansson then touches the puck to Chimera above the blue paint. Chimera is left alone by Drazenovic and taps the puck Fleury's right skate. The penguins' defense was cut to ribbons on that play. Johansson and Orlov get assists. Capitals 2-1.
4:52: Stealing a puck at the Capitals' left point, Kunitz chops a shot/pass to the net. Sutter is there and tries to re-direct it on net. Neuvirth eats it up.
3:52: Welcome to Pittsurgh Taylor Pyatt. Taking a pass from Jokinen on the left wing, Maatta fakes a slapper, then pulls it down and skates by a sliding Tom Wilson. At the bottom of the left cicle, he deals a pass to Pyatt's wheelhouse in the slot. Pyatt lifts a one-timer by the glove hand of Neuvirth and into the cage. It's Pyatt's first goal as a Penguin. What a dazzling play by Maatta. Maatta and Jokinen get assists. The "Hey Song" is always dazzling. Capitals 2, Penguins 2.
1:53: Collecting a puck deep on the right wing, Green snaps off a wrister which Fleury grabs.
0:58: Bortuzzo collects a loose puck on the right wing boards and chucks it on net. Neuvirth snags it.
0:00: End of period. Capitals 2, Penguins 2.
-Things were a little stagnant at first in that period but they opened a little bit in the later stages.
-We can't rave about the play Maatta made to set up Pyatt's goal enough. He was so composed in creating that chance.
-Fleury has been fairly sharp tonight.
-Crosby and Kunitz have been pretty ordinary tonight thus far.
-The Penguins have a 25-23 lead in shots on net.
-The Capitals have a 46-39 lead in attempted shots.
-Ovechkin leads the game with four shots.
-Niskanen Kunitz, Drazenovic and Letang each lead the Penguins with three shots.
-Carlson leads the game with 18:11 of ice tme.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 15:05.
-The Capitals have a 19-14 lead in faceoffs (58 percent).
-Backstrom is 6 for 12 (50 percent).
-Malkin is 5 for 10 (50 percent).
-Scuderi, Engelland, Bortuzzo, Erskine, Backstrom and Carrick each lead the game with two blocked shots.
19:28: Malkin dekes around Green in the left circle of the Capitals' zone. Green trips him up. Despite that. Malkin whips a shot on net. Neuvirth kicks it out. Pyatt jabs the rebound on net. Neuvirth eats it up. Green is given a tripping minor. Crosby, Malkin, Jokinen, Letang and Kunitz take the ice.
19:10: Malkin whacks a one-timer from the right circle. Neuvirth fights it off.
18:18: Crosby fires a slapper from the left circle. Neuvirth fights it off.
18:08: Malkin chucks a puck from the right wing corner on net. Neuvirth snags it. A scrum develops. Carrick gives Crosby a one-handed shove. Crosby shoves him back with two hands and Carrick goes down like a crash-test dummy.
16:48: Ovechkin lifts a wrister from the right circle which is blocked.
15:55: etang chucks a wrister from the left half wall. Neuvirth snags it.
14:40: Malkin is on the bench in some discomfort and talking with athletic trainer Chris Stewart.
12:58: Malkin skates offsides then mixes it up with John Erskine in the slot. Both players get minors, Erskine for roughing and Malkin for high sticking. We'll have four on four for two minutes.
12:10: Off a nice move around the Penguins' net by Brouwer, Orplov snaps off a wrister from the slot. Fleury eats it up.
11:31: The Penguins are using three defensemen - Bortuzzo, Orpik and Letang - as well as Jokinen on this four-on-four situation.
11:25: The Capitals take advantage of the three defenseman look and cash in. Johansson controls a puck to the right of the cage and snaps off a cross-ice pass to Ovechkin in the left circle. Ovechkin fires a laser by the glove hand of Fleury on the far side. What a shot! The fact that Ovechkin had lost his stick and recovered it just prior to the pass makes it even more amazing. Why were the Penguins using three defenemen in that situation? Johansson and Green get assists. Capitals 3-2.
10:19: On a delayed penalty, Maatta pounds a slapper from the left point. Neuvirth eats it up. Green is sent off for tripping Malkin again. Malkin, letang, jokinen, Crosby and Kunitz take the ice.
10:04: A one-timer by Malkin from the right half wall is kicked out by Neuvirth
9:58: A penalty by Malkin nullifies the power play. He tried to body Laich off the puck from on the right half wall in order to allow it to the slide to the right point. Laich takes a tumble and Malkin is called for interference. That's a legit call by the book but how often is the book really enforced? We'll have four-on-four play for 1:39.
9:30: Alzner booms a slapper from the slot wide of the cage.
8:25: Jussi Jokinen to the rescue. Sutter cycles with the puck out of the left wing corner, fends off a check and deals a pass to Jokinen position jut to the right of the cage. Jokinen has a step on Orlov and lifts a shot behind Orlov. That puck appeared to hit off Orlov's stick. Jokinen gets credit for the goal for now. Sutter and Niskanen get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Capitals 3, Penguins 3.
8:19: The Green minor is killed. The Capitals will have 21 seconds of power play time.
7:58: The Malkin minor is killed.
5:54: Erksine booms a slapper from the left point wide on the near side.
4:38: Chimera snaps off a wrister from a bad angle on the left wing. Fleury snags it.
3:50: Aaron Volpatti chucks a wrister from the right point. His shot it blocked.
2:08: Malkin snaps off a pass from the left wing to the slot. Jokinen is there but falls to the ice.
1:54: Olli Matta to the rescue. Taking pass from Malkin at the left point, Maatta fakes a one-timer then pulls down his shot. He sneaks up a little bit to the left cir, get a step on Joel ward and flings a wrister through traffic and into the back of the net. Pyatt ha a wonderful screen on the play to make thins difficult for Neuvirth. The Penguins take their first lead. Malkin and Niskanen get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 4-3.
1:09: Neuvirth is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:12: Orpik chips a puck up the left wing wall to get it out of the zone.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 4, Capitals 3.
-This game was hyped as an Olympic preview of sorts. Two of the biggest names for team Russia would be playing with Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. Team USA had plenty of names involved also with head coach Dan Bylsma as well as defensemen Brooks Orpik and John Carlson. Oh, and Canada had that Crosby guy playing too. With all those big names for three of the favorites playing tonight, it was a couple of plucky Finns who played major roles in the Penguins winning their franchise record 13th consecutive home game.
-Olli Maatta and Jussi Jokinen came through on the Penguins' final three goals and gave their team a hard-fought win against a division rival.
-Maatta was clearly the best player in this game. He showed so much confidence with some of the plays he made tonight, none more so than his pass to set up Taylor Pyatt for a goal. The play he made to create space on his game-winning goal should not be overlooked. Sometimes, it's baffling to realize he's a 19-year-old rookie.
-A cross-ice pass by Jokinen helped create the play on which Maatta set up Pyatt's goal. Then in the third period, Jokinen simply crashed in on net and scored the game-tying goal.
-Pyatt played what was easily his best game in a Penguins' jersey. He used his body to create some space for his linemates, Malkin and Jokinen, a screened Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth quite a bit, including on the game-winning goal by Maatta.
-Bylsma said he felt getting in a few practices at home earlier this week benefited Pyatt.
-Oh yeah, that Malkin guy wasn't too shabby either. He had a pretty strong effort down low to set up Maatta's scoring chance. He looked dangerous anytime he stepped on the ice.
-Marc-Andre Fleury played a pretty good game too. Three goals on 28 shots isn't an elite number but he came through one some quality scoring chances behind a defense which looked shaky at times.
-Kris Letang and another "up/down" game. He had an ugly turnover which led to a short-handed goal by the Capitals then responded with a somewhat fluky goal to tie the game, 1-1. There's a lot of good and bad for Letang.
-The Penguins mixed and matched their lines much of the the night. It was tough to get a read on how much chemistry they had in regards to their lines.
-With the exception of their roles on Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz had a pretty quiet night overall. As a result, some of the Penguins secondary players stepped up.
-Brandon Sutter looked okay on the first line as a right winger. He wasn't totally comfortable but he seemed fairly competent.
-Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Lelond and Nick Drazenovic were okay. Drazenovic had a bad play which led to a goal by Washington's Jason Chimera but he was okay the rest of the night. Neither player did much to hurt the Penguins.
-Matt Niskanen quietly put together a good game. He had two assists, each secondary helpers on the Penguins' final two goals.
-The Penguins' power play struggled going 0 for 3 while allowing a short-handed goal. We're willing to give this unit a break considering it played without Neal.
-Marcus Johansson shredded the Penguins' defensive zone with two precision passes which led directly two goals.
-If not for a poor defensive zone coverage on a four-on-four situation, the Penguins probably would have shut out Alex Ovechkin. The Penguins used three defensemen - Brooks Orpik, Robert Bortuzzo and Letang - as well as Jokinen in the late stages of a four-on-four and Johansson was able to hit Ovechkin with a cross-ice feed which led to a go-head goal to make it a 3-2 game.
-Bylsma was asked about why he used three defensemen in that situation. Basically he explianed Chris Kunitz and Crosby were used early on the four-on-four situation and with Malkin in the penalty box, he wanted to use Letang as a forward. Bylsma added, "That was my harebrained idea."
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 37-28.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 60-56.
-Ovechkin led the game with six shots.
-Niskanen, Letang, Malkin and Crosby each led the Penguins with four shots.
-Carlson led the game with 28:07 of ice time.
-Crosby led the Penguins with 24:23.
-The Capitals had a 24-23 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Johansson is 6 for 10 (60 percent).
-Crosby was 10 for 21 (48 percent).
-Rob Scuderi led the game with four blocked shots.
-John Erskine, Eric Fehr and Carlson each led the Capitals with two blocked shots.
-Pyatt is the 468th player to score a regular season goal for the Penguins.
-Maatta's goal was the first game-winning goal in his career.
-Kunitz moved past Robert Lang for 27th on the franchise's all-time scoring list. Both players have 261 career points but Kunitz (115) has more goals than Letang (103).