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Oliver Luck talks Kickoff Game, rising trend in neutral-site openers

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

WVUToday.com

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck spared a few minutes Friday to discuss the details of the Chick-fil-A Game Kickoff Classic contract, which will land both West Virginia and Alabama a $3.2 million windfall, and the rising trend in neutral-site openers.

Luck is coming at this topic from a few different vantage points, being both an athletic director and a member of the newly established College Football Playoff committee, which has stated its early emphasis on strength of schedule. Thought he had plenty of interesting thoughts on the topic, and not everything fit in the story, so here's our Q&A.


Stephen J. Nesbitt: What was your initial reaction when you were first approached about playing Alabama in 2014?

Oliver Luck: "We were excited about it. One of the interesting developments in college football has been these quasi-bowl games at the beginning of the year. Neutral-site games are much more popular now. I actually think it all goes back to the National Football League. If you think about 20 years, take Pittsburgh for an example, old Three Rivers Stadium was run by the county (I think, right?), or the Astrodome in Houston was run by the county. They really had no interest to really maximize the value of that stadium. As these NFL teams all began to take over the leases, they've gotten much more proactive in trying to put together games. The Redskins might be the most proactive group, with all the stuff they're doing at FedEx. Whether it's Dallas or Atlanta, there's always been a kickoff classic going back for years, but there's many more opportunities. I think fans like it. These games have been pretty well received by fans.

"When the folks from Atlanta approached us, we thought, well, this is a great opportunity. Let's see if we can make it work. I forget the details, we may have had to move a team around to make that date available, but that's not uncommon."

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Empty Netter Assists - 03-12-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Dave Molinari's recap from last night's game. Chris Kunitz escaped injury after crashing legs-first into the net.

-The Washington Post's recap. “I’m there to stop the puck and tonight I let in two. It’s tough to win when we don’t score any goals, especially on the road, but I know everybody was trying hard, everybody played hard, tonight just didn’t go our way.” - Capitals goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

-The Associated Press' recap. "Every time we play them, it's pretty intense." - Marc-Andre Fleury on the Capitals.

-Highlights:

-The play in which Kunitz was shaken up:

-Brandon Sutter and Washington's Casey Wellman battled for this puck:

-Washington's Marcus Johansson couldn't beat Fleury (or Rob Scuderi, Brooks Orpik or Sutter) here:

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Dan Bylsma speaks:

-Lee Stempniak speaks:

-“There has not been a day when thoughts about the Olympics didn’t enter my head, when I wouldn’t remember it. I don’t think anyone is taking it harder than the players. Yes, we didn’t win. And there was a lot of negativity after the Olympics that Ovechkin and I had a rift, that we had one with the coach. This was not the case. It doesn’t feel good to read that. Everyone is upset.” - Evgeni Malkin on Russia teammate Alex Ovechkin and the Olympics.

-NHL general manager voted to recommend teams switch ends of the ice in overtime.

-Happy 62nd birthday to former Penguins forward Ed Gilbert. Acquired from the Kansas City Scouts midway through the 1975-76 season along with Simon Nolet and a and a draft pick in exchange for Steve Durbano, Chuck Arnason and a draft pick, Gilbert spent parts of two seasons in Pittsburgh. In 1975-76, he appeared in 38 games and scored two points. During 1976-77, he was limited to seven games and no points. In the 1978 offseason, he signed with the Cincinnati Stingers of the WHA.

-Today would've been the 77th birthday of former Penguins and Pittsburgh Hornets goaltender Roy Edwards. Edwards was originally claimed by the Penguins from the Blackhawks in the 1967 expansion draft but was traded to the Red Wings in exchange for Hank Bassen prior to the start of their inaugural season. In the 1971 offseason, the Penguins re-claimed him off waivers from the Red Wings. In 1971-72, he would go 2-8-4 with a 2.55 goals against average in 15 games before retiring in December due to stress. Having recovered, he was traded back to Detroit prior to 1972-73 in exchange for cash. He passed away at the age of 62 in 1999.

-Happy 37rd birthday to current Peguins goaltender Brent Johnson (right). A free agent signing in the 2009 offseason, Johnson spent three seasons with the Penguins. In 2009-10, Johnson went 10-6-1 with a 2.76 goals against average and .906 save percentage. He appeared in one playoff game last season. He had no record, a 1.94 goals against average and .857 save percentage. During the 2010-11 campaign, Johnson had a 13-5-3  record with a 2.17 goals against average, .922 save percentage and one shutout (and two fights). That postseason, he saw action in one game, didn't record a result and had a 7.06 goals against average as well as a .636 save percentage. In 2011-12, Johnson appeared in 16 games and had a 6-7-2 record with a 3.11 goals against average and .883 save percentage. He saw action in one postseason game that spring and had a 6.00 goals against average and a .667 save percentage. He was not re-signed following that season In 62 regular season games with the Penguins, Johnson is 29-18-6  with a 2.61 goals against average, .907 save percentage and one shutout. In two postseason games, he has no record, a 4.94 goals against average and .708 save percentage.

-Happy 34th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Douglas Murray.  Acquired near the 2013 trade deadline in a deal which sent draft picks to the Sharks, "Crankshaft" spent the latter stages of the 2012-13 season with the Penguins. In 14 regular season games, he recorded three points. Murray saw action in 15 postseason games and recorded three points. This past offseason, he joined the Canadiens as a free agent.

-After the jump: Matt Cooke (legally) hits a milestone.

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PIAA highlights: Strong 4th quarter propels Central Valley

Written by Mike White on .

Roundup of PIAA second-round boys and girls games from Tuesday night.

Central Valley came up with a big fourth quarter and turned back Thomas Jefferson, 61-51, in a PIAA Class AAA boys quarterfinal game at Chartiers Valley.
Thomas Jefferson held a 40-38 lead after three quarters, but Central Valley came on strong in the fourth, outscoring the Jaguars, 23-11. Central Valley also beat Thomas Jefferson in the WPIAL semifinals.
Four Central Valley players scored in double figures, led by Tony Gates and Mike Sims with 14 each. Matt Kline scored 11 and John George 10. Zach Talley had 15 for Thomas Jefferson.

ELSEWHERE IN CLASS AAA
*Farrell 86, Uniontown 72: Farrell (24-3) outscored Uniontown, 17-3, in overtime to pull out the win at Penn Hills. Uniontown (22-3) was 1 of 7 from the field in overtime while Farrell was 9 of 14 from the free-throw line. Farrell made 30 of 46 free throws for the game while Uniontnown was only 16 of 26. Five Uniontown starters fouled out.
Farrell opened up a 63-54 lead with a little less than two minutes left in the game, but Uniontown came back to tie at 67-67. After Jamel Brown scored on a layup with 20 seconds left, Uniontown's Lyric Ellis was fouled with 14 seconds remaining. Ellis was hurt and couldn't shoot the free throws, so Rodney Harris came off the bench and made both to tie the game. But Farell dominated the overtime. Jamel Brown led Farrell with 23 points, 15 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Ike Jones had 20 points and 14 rebounds. Joe Campbell had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Uniontown while Jordan Pratt added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
*Lancaster Mennonite 68, Chartiers Valley 64: Chartiers Valley, the WPIAL runner-up, saw its season end after a loss at Bedford High School. Chartiers Valley (25-3) lost despite 32 points and 11 rebounds from Matty McConnell. A junior guard, McConnell scored 23 points in the first half to help the Colts take a 35-34 lead into the break. But Lancaster Mennonite (22-7) opened up a 60-50 lead in the fourth quarter. Chartiers Valley cut the deficit to 65-63 with 50 seconds left, but the Blazers hung on for the win. Julian Collazzo, a junior guard, led Mennonite with 22 points, seven above his average. Chartiers Valley's Jerrad Tuite, who averages 16, scored only six.

CLASS A BOYS
*Vincentian 94, Homer-Center 66: Vincentian (24-3) broke the 90-point mark for the third consecutive game and rolled to the win at Hempfield. Vincentian led by 18 points in the second quarter but Homer-Center (23-4) cut the deficit to 61-56 in the third quarter before Vincentian went on a 13-0 run to take control. Ryan Wolf scored 30 points and Jay Cortese had 25 points, and 12 rebounds.
*Lincoln Park 81, Forbes Road 28: Lincoln Park (27-1), the No. 1-ranked Class A team in the state, jumped to a 30-11 lead after the first quarter and breezed to the victory over Forbes Road (17-9) at Hempfield. Sophomore guard Maverick Rowan led Lincoln Park with 23 points, Ryan Skovranko had 20 and Antonio Kellem 18. The win sets up a long-awaited showdown with Vincentian.
*Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 58, Ridgway 43: Leading by only three after the third quarter, North Catholic (17-10) went on a 10-2 run to start the fourth en route to the win at Clarion University. Ryan Kirby scored 21 points and Dominic Robb 16 for North Catholic while Jeremy Breier had 17 for Ridgway (21-6).
*Bishop Carroll 69, Monessen 65: Undefeated Bishop Carroll (26-0) used a 22-0 run in the second half to overtake Monessen (21-7) at Gateway. Monessen led, 53-50, after the third quarter, but Bishop Carroll opened up a 63-53 lead as Monessen went almost six minutes without scoring in the fourth. Brandon Martinazzi led Bishop Carroll with 28 points. Javon Brown had 19 for Monessen.

CLASS AAAA GIRLS
*North Allegheny 58, State College 44: The Tigers (23-2) advanced with a win against District 6 champion State College Tuesday night at Indiana High School. Against State College (18-8), sophomore Abby Gonzalez had 18 points, 7 assists and 5 steals.
*Hempfield 54, Fox Chapel 44: Monica Burns scored 26 points for Hempfield to set up a rematch with North Allegheny. Hempfield beat NA in the WPIAL semifinals. Duke recruit Erin Mathias had 18 for Fox Chapel.

CLASS AA GIRLS
*Bishop Canevin 64, Karns City 40: The Crusaders (21-6) will get their fourth chance at knocking off Seton-La Salle this season in the PIAA quarterfinals after disposing of District 9 champion Karns City (24-2) at Clarion University. Canevin jumped out to a 12-0 lead and never looked back. Johnie Olkosky led the way, turning in a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Gina Vallecorsa added 17 points for the Crusaders.
* Seton-La Salle 61, Greensburg Central Catholic 43: The Rebels (24-4) will be returning to the PIAA quarterfinals for the fifth year in a row after defeating Greensburg Central Catholic (20-6) at Chartiers Valley. Seton-LaSalle held Greensburg Central to only six field goals in the first half. Cassidy Walsh scored 16 points, 12 in the first half on four 3-pointers, for Seton-LaSalle.
*Burrell 34, Bellwood-Antis 29: Sophomore Natalie Myers led the Buccaneers (27-1) back to the PIAA quarterfinals for the second year in a row with a win against Bellwood-Antis (24-4) at Indiana High School. Myers continued her postseason tear with a double-double — 16 points, 13 rebounds — and iced the victory from the free-throw line, going 7 for 7 in the fourth quarter. Burrell will play General McLane in the quarterfinals.

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'They deserve better': Robert Morris falters in NEC title game

Written by Craig Meyer on .

 

If things went right, the situation was supposed to play out like a dream for Robert Morris.

The team that played with and somehow excelled with eight players for two months was a game away from an NCAA tournament berth that once appeared improbable in a lost season.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, that dream wasn’t necessarily a nightmare, but instead, a cruel twist of fate -- the team that had defied the numbers the entire year was not able to do so one more time.

Mount St. Mary’s got off to a hot shooting start, one that it never entirely strayed away from, as it buried 60.4 percent of its field goals to defeat Robert Morris, 88-71, in the Northeast Conference championship Tuesday at the Sewall Center.

After the game, sitting before the media, Colonials coach Andy Toole was asked about what his eight-man group meant to him.

The sounds of celebrating Mount St. Mary’s players reverberated from the floor below, a stark reminder of what had just happened. With that noise in the background, Toole’s answer was simple.

“The eight guys that are in the locker room right now that are crushed were incredible to coach,” he said. “The efforts they gave on a daily basis really didn’t show tonight and that’s what’s so upsetting, because they deserve better. They deserve better.”

The win by the Mountaineers (16-16) marked the second consecutive year that they eliminated the Colonials (21-13) from the NEC tournament. With the loss, Robert Morris has fallen in three of the past four conference championship games.

Despite the loss, the Colonials’ season is not over, as it automatically qualifies for the National Invitation Tournament by virtue of winning the conference’s regular season title.

Mount St. Mary’s had five players finish in double figures, led by 20 points from guard Rashad Whack.

Guard Karvel Anderson, the NEC player of the year, had a team-high 21 points for Robert Morris. Forward Lucky Jones and guard Charles Oliver added 11 points apiece.

From the game’s opening moments, the Mountaineers had little trouble against Robert Morris’ 2-3 zone, a scheme which had become so effective over the past month.

Mount St. Mary’s made 14 of its first 19 shots of the game, jumping out to a 37-17 lead by eviscerating the gaps in the zone for easy looks that ultimately turned into points.

By halftime, the shooting numbers and lead were largely the same, as the Mountaineers made 69.2 percent of its shots and had a 48-32 advantage.

“They put their three best players – [Julian] Norfleet, Whack and [Sam] Prescott – two guys high and Prescott at the foul line area and made us make choices,” Toole said. “Unfortunately, it seemed like every choice we made was the wrong one.”

The Colonials threatened that lead occasionally in the second half, trimming its deficit to as little as 10 with 12:44 remaining. Any momentum, however, ultimately proved to be short-lived as they began to force shots and kept trying to make what Toole described as “10-point plays.”

Mount St. Mary’s quickly pushed its lead back to 17 points and from there, the Colonials did not present a formidable challenge for the remainder of the game.

“We won this championship through the regular season by playing a tough non-conference schedule, by sticking together through tough times,” Mount St. Mary’s coach Jamion Christian said. “I think today, you got the chance to see a team that just really connected.”

Robert Morris’ senior class becomes the first since 2008 to go through school without ever making the NCAA tournament.

The theme of Toole’s postgame message routinely went back to those players, the ones who gave him and the program so much during the season, only to fall short of their season-long goal.

“I’m just disappointed for our team because I just wish we would have played better so we would have given ourselves a chance because I thought they deserved that,” Toole said. “It’s just disappointing.”

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

 

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Capitals at Penguins - 03-11-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

-Greetings on a beautiful late winter day in Pittsburgh. It's warm, sunny clear. It's a great day in general but it's might not be a great day for hockey in Consol Energy Center.

-A few players have informally expressed concern for how the ice is maintained at this building in terms of accounting for outside conditions. Apparently there are gauges which can adjust the temperature, humidity and other atmospheric conditions indoors. When weather gets warmer or more humid, those variables need to be manually adjusted. We'll see if said conditions have been adjusted adequately.

-Craig Adams expressed some concern about how the Penguins have played recently. Despite winning the last two games, they have been thoroughly dominated in terms of puck possession. In the past three games, the Penguins have attempted 153 shots, an average of 51 per game. The opponents have 213 shots, average of 71. That approach won't work in the playoffs, even against a mostly weak field of teams in the Eastern Conference.

-We will give the Penguins some sympathy on this front as Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak are still working their ways into the lineup while Taylor Pyatt and Jussi Jokinen are experimenting on different lines.

-A lot of what you will see from the Penguins from now until the end of the regular season is experimenting. This is a team which is still trying to find identity as a team and in select groups with regards to lines, defensive pairings and special teams units. Add in the the potential returns of Beau Bennett and Paul Martin and that's a lot of moving parts.

-One thing is certain, Marc-Andre Fleury, now more than ever, must be this team's most dominant player. One could argue that has been the case most of this season. Fleury has been the steadiest player for this team since Oct. 3, the season opener. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have had stretches of rough play throughout the season but not Fleury. Aside from a bad game her or there, his performance this season has been consistent.

-As far as tonight's opponent, it will be interesting to see how the Capitals try to turn it around tonight minus Brooks Laich who did not travel to Pittsburgh for undisclosed reasons. We would expect to see rookie Evgeny Kusnetsov sub in for him on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.

-It'll be interesting to see how the defensive pairings sort out in terms of match ups. The Rob Scuderi-Matt Niskanen combo got a lot of Ovechkin in the early stages of the game. Later, with a one-goal lead, Brooks Orpik and Olli Matta saw a lot of Ovechkin. Regardless of who saw the defending Hart Trophy winner, he was kept off the score sheet.

-The Capitals top line last night was easily the trio of Eric Fehr, Joel Ward and Jason Chimera. We're eager to see them in person tonight.

-The barn:

-The ice:

-Jussi Jokinen:

-We always seem to run into a Craig Adams fan:

-Ron Francis:

-Ushers are armed with signs to prevent fans from walking around the stands during play:

-Penguins fan Cy Clark is on hand to show "support" to Alex Ovechkin:

-Fans entering the barn:

-There are a smattering of Capitals fans. Braden Holtby:

-Beware Jarkko Ruutu fans. There is a Chris Simon fan on the loose:

 

 

-A complicated relationship:

-Colby Armstrong Thrashers:

-The always rare Trevor Linden Canucks knockoff/Matt Matt Cooke Cook double jersey foul:

-Former Penguins/Capitals defenseman Sergei Gonchar:

-Jersey of the Night: Given his overtime goal against the Capitals in the 1995 playoffs, we have to go with Luc Robitaille:

-Warmups:

-The Penguins starters are Jussi Jokinen, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Rob Scuderi and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland and the great Joe Vitale.

-The Penguins' lines and defensive pairing in warmups were:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Lee Stempniak
Jussi Jokinen - Brandon Sutter - James Neal
Taylor Pyatt - Brandon Sutter - Brian Gibbons
Tanner Glass - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Matt Niskanen - Rob Scuderi
Olli Maatta - Brooks Orpik
Simon Despres - Robert Bortuzzo

-The Capitals' starters are Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward, Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Jaroslav Halak.

-Their scratches are John Erskine, Brooks Laich and Patrick Wey.

-Their lines and defensive pairings:

-Jeff Jimerson does what he does best:

FIRST PERIOD

18:25: Taking  a pass from Jay Beagle at center point, Jack Hillen pumps a wrister on net. Fleury boots it out.

17:47: Goc chucks a backhander from the right wing on net, potentially hopping for a pass-of-pads type of rebound for Glass in the slot. Halak cleanly steers it to the opposite wing.

17:02: Neal releases a wrister from the right circle. Halak fights it off.

16:33: Jokinen chases down a puck in the left wing corner and sneaks a pass to Malkin all alone in the slot. Malkin leans down and releases a heavy shot which Halak fights off.

15:49: Crosby has a chance but fails to cash in . On a partial two on-one he forces a pass from the right circle to Kunitz in the left circle. Troy Brouwer hustles on a backcheck and dives to break up the pass.

15:44: Kunitz gets another chance in the left circle but his wrister is blocked by a sliding Hillen.

12:59: A wrister by Stempniak from above the right circle is blocked by Johansson.

12:40: A wrister by Oveckhin from the right cirlc is blocked on a stick-on-puck by Scuderi.

10:26: Scuderi chucks a wrister from the right half wall. Halak steers it away.

8:00: There has been

7:33: Orpik rattles Ward with a solid hit into the bards near the Penguins' left point.

7:18: Mike Green races the puck u ice from his own zone and pops a slapper from the Penguins' center point wide of the cage.

6:12: Orpik fires a wrister from the left point wide of hte cage.

5:37: Pyatt slides a weak wrister on net from the right half wall. Halak smothers it. That's the first stoppage in play since there was 19:21 remaining in the period. That's 13:45 of uninterrupted play.

5:10: Jokinen backhands a pass from the right half wall to Scuderi at the right point. Scuderi golfs a one-timer which Halak snags.

3:56: Taking a pass on the right wing, Sutter rips a rising wrister tot he far side. Halak fights it off.

3:16: The "old" second line strikes. Malkin wheels around int he right wing corner and slides a pass to Niskanen at the right point. Niskanen grips and rips a wrister towads the net. Jokinen skates in fron tof haak on a moving screen and re-directs the puck which his forehand through the five hole of Halak. What a play by Jokinen. Niskanen and Malkin get assists. That chance was  The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.

2:05: After a neutral zone turnover by the Penguins off an attempted stretch pass, Chimera has a chance in the right circle. He lifts a wrister which Fleury fights off.

1:27: Despres rips a wrister from the right point. Halak steers it away despite traffic.

0:11: Alzner pounds a slapper from the right point. It hits a body or two and is knocked dead.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Capitals 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-That was a pretty up and down period with the Penguins having a clear advantage in puck possession. They controlled the puck for the most part and put several quality shots on net.

-If not for Halak playing pretty well, this could be a two- or three-goal difference.

-Jokinen looked pretty sharp on the second line. He was pretty sharp with a few passes he dished out and the play he made on his goal was sublime.

-Stempniak did not look all that sharp with Crosby and Kunitz that period.

-Did anyone see Alex Ovechkin?

-The Penguins have a 13-6 lead in shots on net.

-The Penguins have a 21-12 lead in attempted shots.

-Stempniak, Hillen and Chimera each lead the game with two shots.

-Dmitry Orlov leads the games with 8:01 of ice time.

-Niskanen leads the Penguins with 7:50.

-The Penguins have a 5-3 lead in faceoffs (53 percent).

-Crosby is 2 for 4 (50 percent).

-Beagle is 1 for 2 (50 percent).

-No one has more than one blocked shot.

-A reader spotted a Nate Guenin Ducks jersey:

-And... a tremendous jersey foul:

SECOND PERIOD

19:33: Crosby hustles up the right wing and flings a backhander over the cage.

17:30: Connor Carrick pushes a puck up the right wing and is dropped with a heavy hit into the boards just inside the Penguins' blue line by Despres. Oof.

16:49: Crosby drops Fehr with a hit in the Capitals' left circle a little away from the puck. He might have gotten away with some interference.

16:35: The Penguins get a power play as the Capitals are nabbed for too many men on the ice. Tom Wilson will serve the minor. Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, Crosby an Niskne take the ice.

16:04: Off some perimeter passing, Niskanen swipes a one-timer from above the right circle. Halak boots it out.

15:27: Short-handed, Nicklas Backstrom pushes a puck up the ice into the Penguins' zone and chucks a wrister from center point. Niskanen has a big gap and blocks it.

15:15: Jokinen takes a pass on the right wingpulls up at the half wall and whips a wrister on net. Malkin is moving through on a screen and redirects it on net. Halak smothers it.

14:35: The Capitals' minor is killed. The Penguins maintained the puck pretty well but didn't really put many quality shot on net.

13:36: Off a turnover by Scuderi in his own left wing corner, Ward attempts a wrister but ha it stolen by Crosby. Scuderi owes Crosby a beer.

13:05: Taking a pass from above the left circle, Neal whipstes a wrister wide of the cage.

11:57: Stempniak pushes a puck past Orlov in the neutral zone, gains the offensive zone and undresses poor Carrick en route to the net. He goes backhand an dis denied by Halalksrigh leg.

11:46: Orpik chucks a wrister from the left point. Halak makes the stop but the puck hops up on him. Stempniak is above the blue pain and chops at it in midair. The puck then bounds off the cross bar and out. What a crazy shift for Stempniak.

9:25: Neal rips a wrister from the right circle on net. Halak eats it up.

8:58: Taking pass at the right point, Alzner chucks  wrister at the cage. It hits a body and there is a scramble. Kuznetsov get a stick on the rebound but puts it off the near post and then Fleury's right leg rejects him. Wow!

8:16: Alzner takes a pass in he right circle and rips a wrister which Maatta gets a stick on. Fleury fights it off.

6:38: A wrister by Jason Chimera from the right wing is fought off by Fleury.

6:15: Ovechkin controls the puck on the right half wall of the attacking zone and is booed. That's only the third or fourth time he's been booed. He hasn't been a big enough factor to get his customary "greeting" here as much as he normally does.

4:08: Niskanen pops a slapper from the right half wall. It gets blocked.

3:31: Off a fed by Ovechkin, Carrick lifts a wrister from the right circle wide of the cage.

2:19: Attendance is announced as 18,646. It is the team's 316th consecutive sellout.

1:51: A wrister by Carlson from the right point is blocked by Bortuzzo. Glass taps the rebound down ice to clear it but ices the puck.

0:59: Hillen chops a slapper from the right point wide of the cage.

0:50: Malkin coasts up the right wing with the puck and challenges Hillen one-on-one with the puck. Hillen pokes it off his stick and steals it.

0:14: Orpik chops a one-timer from the right point. Halak boots it out.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Capitals 0.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-Things bogged down quite a bit for each team that period. There wasn't a ton of free space to skate with the puck and just about every shot near the cage had to go through a phalanx of bodies or sticks near the cage.

-Halak has been the best player in this game. He has stolen a few goals here and there to keep his team in it. He's playing much better than he did last night.

-The same can't be said of his teammate. They are playing a solid defensive game but have offered little else.

-It would be a stretch to say Fleury has been tested.

-We liked how the Bortuzzo-Despres pairing looked that period.

-The Penguins have a 26-12 lead in shots on net.

-The Penguins have a 39-27 lead in attempted shots.

-Neal leads the game with four shots on net.

-Chimera leads the Capitals with three.

-Niskanen leads the game with 14:55 of ice time.

-Green leads the Capitals with 14:03.

-The Penguins have a 17-7 lead in faceoffs (71 percent).

-Crosby is 7 for 11 (64 percent).

-Beagle is 2 for 4 (50 percent).

-Bortuzzo, Orpik and Scuderi each lead the game with two blocked shots.

-Neal graces the cover of a funky-looking Icetime:

THIRD PERIOD

18:59: Neal and Niskanen catch Green napping and creates a breakaway. Neal sneaks a bank pass up the right wing boards of the neutral zone spring Neal behind Green. Neal attacks the net on a partial breakaway and rips a low shot. Halak's right leg boots it out.

18:46: A wrister by Hillen is snagged by Fleury.

18:29: Wilson drops Maatta with a solid hit into the Penguins' end boards.

17:47: Off an offensive zone faceoff win in the Penguins' right circle, Orlov pops a one-timer from above the left circle wide to the far side.

16:33: Crosby feed a pass from the nuetlr zone to Kunitz up the left wing. Kunitz mustel his way by Green and attacks the net. He loses the puck then loses his footing as he crashes into the net and then the end boards. The net comes dislodged and play is halted. Kunitz is smarting a bit after the collision and labors a bit to recover to his skates. He eventually makes it to the bench but seems a tad unsteady. Athletic trainer Chris stewart talks to him on the bench.

16:24: A wrister by Chimera is deflected out of play by Fleury.

16:05: Alzner chucks a wrister from the right point wide of the cage.

13:30: Kunitz is back on the ice with Adams and Goc.

12:33: Ovechkin controls a puck in the left circle, turns and whips a wrister on net. Fleury smothers it. Beagle digs for a puck under Fleury. Crosby and Orpik give him give back.

11:58: Niskanen is called for high sticking Kuznetsov in the Penguins' right circle. This is a big two minutes. Goc, Scuderi, Orpik and Adams take the ice.

11:30: Ovechkin sails a wrister from the left circle wide to the far side.

11:11: Chimera tries to jam in a forehand shot form the right side of the cage. Fleury holds it out. Adams clears the rebound down ice.

10:50: Play is halted as Maatta is checking his mouth. Backstrom brought his stick up while battling for a rebound in the Penguins' right wing corner and caught him in the mouth. That's two minutes for high sticking. We'll see four-on-four play for 52 seconds.

10:42: Maatta takes a pass at the right point and whacks a slapper wide to the far side.

9:58: The Niskanen minor is killed. The Penguins will have 1:08 of a power play. A goal here would ice this game.

9:40: Crosby gains the offensive zone down the slot and leaves a drop pass for Malkin in the high slot. Malkin grips and rips a wrister on net. Halak snags it.

9:05: Off a feed from Malkin, Nisaknen whacks a one-time from the right half wall. Halak knocks it dead with his glove and smothers the rebound.

8:46: As the Backstrom minor expires. Maatta  hammers a one-timer from center point. Halak makes the save initially. Crosby has a chance with the rebound to the right of the cage but Halak's right leg denies him. Maatta gets another chance off another ebound but his writer is blocked. Wow!

7:09: Hillen swipes a slapper from above the left circle. Fleury reaches out to snag it with his glove hand. There's a scrum in front of Fleury but it quickly dissipates.

5:38: Game. Set. match. After Stempniak taps a puck by Brower at the right point, Crosby pushes it up the right wing and creates a partial two-on-one with Kunitz against Hillen. Hillen takes away the pass and gives Crosby the shot. Crosby takes up HIllen on his generosity and rips a wrister under the blocker of Halak on the far side. What a shot. A little more chemistry on display there between Stempniak and Crosby. Stempniak gets the only assist. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 2-0.

5:24: Carlson is deep in the offensive zone and whips a wrister on net from above the left circle. Fleury snags it.

4:57: Sutter sneaks up the right wing and feeds a pass to the blue paint. Gibbons charges in and taps it wide.

4:19: The Penguins are all of the Capitals in their own zone. After Adams forces Ward into a turnover near the Capitals' right wing corner, Glass swipes a shot on net from above the right circle. Halak smothers it.

4:08: The Capitals get another chance. Ward tries to chip and chase a puck up the right wing and is held up by Despres. That's two minutes of interference. Goc, Sutter, Scuderi and Adams take the ice.

3:41: Off some perfection passing, Browuer swipes a shot form the slot. Fleury kicks it out.

3:11: Brouwer gets another chance from the right circle which is once again is denied by Fleury. A scrum breaks out but officials break it up.

2:04: As the Despres minor expires, Kuznetsov chucks a wrister from the right circle. Fleury eats it up.

1:15: Halak is pulled for an extra attacker.

0:46: Green sails a wrister from the center point. Fleury fights it off and deflects it out of play. The Capitals call time out to get organized.

0:19: Ovehckin rips a slapper from the right point. Fleury kicks it out.

0:03: Green pound a slapper from the right point. it hits a body and trickles in on net. Fleury snags it.

0:00: End of game. Fans offer "FLERR-EEE!" chants. Penguins 2, Capitals 0.

POSTGAME

-In an odd way, the Penguins, despite getting a shutout, didn't play nearly as well defensively in this game compared to last's night contest.  That's because they didn't have to.

-Compared to last night, the Penguins did a much better job of controlling the puck and maintaining it. Puck possession was the name of tonight's game for the Penguins. They weren't perfect by any means in this aspect of the game. The Capitals had a few decent scoring chances, particularly in the third period. But the Penguins were much better tonight than the previous three games in terms of simply keeping the puck away from the opposition.

-Don't dismiss what the Penguins got out of Marc-Andre Fleury tonight. He was sharp, especially in the final 30 minutes. He earned this shutout.

-Lee Stempniak continues to look more and more comfortable with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. After a somewhat disjointed first period, Stempniak settled in and created a few solid scoring chance one shift in the second period then played a role in helping create Sidney Crosby's goal. After all of two games, it appears the first-line right wing job is Stempniak's to lose.

-Brooks Orpik and Olli Maatta had an outstanding game as a defensive pairing. They continue to grow as a duo. They routinely drew assignments against Alex Ovechkin line and limited him to two shots on net and probably not many more clean looks at the net.

-The Matt Niskanen-Rob Scuderi duo looked a lot more comfortable as well. They were solid in the first month of the season and they seem to have recaptured some of that chemistry.

-The Penguins used Taylor Pyatt, Sutter and Brian Gibbons as a third line tonight and the results were a little mixed. Sutter and Gibbons seemed to click a little with some passes and Bylsma lauded Pyatt for offering a physical element. Marcel Goc even rotated in a bit on the line.

-Goc seemed to take over for Sutter in the faceoff circle quite a bit tonight. Sutter only took three faceoffs and was 1 for 3. Goc on the other hand took 10 faceoffs going 8 for 10 (80 percent). We're not sure if that was simply Dan Bylsma taking advantage of matchups or a lack of faith in Sutter who has been underwhelming in faceoffs this season at 48.2 percent.

-The Simon Despres-Robert Bortuzzo duo, which was the top pairing for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins during last season's lockout, looked pretty comfortable.

-After creating the first goal, the Jussi Jokinen-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal line came back to earth a bit.

-Special teams weren't really a factor as there were only four power plays. The Penguins' power play was fairly inert while the penalty kill was a rock.

-We have no clue what to make of the Capitals. They have a lot of talent, even with injuries, but something just isn't clicking. They had some pushes late in this game and they even hit a post in the second period with a 1-0 deficit. A goal there could change this game but beyond that, something just isn't clicking.

-The Capitals actually played a fairly decent game defensively. The Penguins had the puck a bunch but relatively few of their scoring chances were clean.

-Jaroslav Halak played a strong game. The only goals he gave up were on a perfect deflection play and a two-on-one to the NHL's leading scorer.

-The Penguins had a 34-32 edge in shots on net.

-The Capitals had a 59-51 lead in attempted shots.

-Jason Chimera led the Capitals with six shots.

-Niskanen led the Penguins with four shots.

-Green led the game with 23:22 of ice time.

-Niskanen led the Penguins with 23:08.

-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 32-15 (68 percent).

-Crosby was 15 for 23 (65 percent).

-Nicklas Backstrom was 6 for 12 (50 percent).

-Scuderi led the game with four blocked shots.

-John Carlson led the Capitals with two blocked shots.

-The Penguins recorded their 100th all-time regular season win against the Capitals and are now have a 100-83-16-5 record against that franchise. The only teams the Penguins have gotten more wins against more often are the Rangers (115) and the Islanders (110).

-The Penguins have now won eight consecutive games against the Capitals.

-The Penguins swept a season series from the Capitals for the third time in franchise history. They went 4-0-0 this season, 3-0-0 in 2012-13 and 4-0-0 in 2006-07.

-Fleury tied his career best of five shutouts set in 2006-07.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

 

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