-If the addition of long-time nemesis Steve Downie to the Pittsburgh Penguins was a "What!?" moment, the addition of part-time pest Maxim Lapierre is more of a "Huh?" moment.
-Lapierre was a significant part of the 2009-10 Canadiens team which upset the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins during an Eastern Conference semifinal series. He was a force in a physical sense and agitated some of the Penguins' best players into being ineffective. Since then, Lapierre has bounced around the league with the Ducks, Canucks and Blues. Like Downie, Lapierre has brought tons of energy but it seems like his energy tires out in each of his stops.
-With the trade and the prospect for a new contract this summer, we would expect Lapierre to have a fresh spark with his new team.
-Lapierre is a temporary solution to a mostly inert fourth line. He will be a - for lack of a better non-Rated R word - jerk. He will push the boundaries of clean play. Sometimes, he'll flat-out violate those boundaries.
-According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Lapierre was on a line with Ryan Reaves and Steve Ott. Head coach Ken Hitchcock didn't need three players who play a north-south forechecking game on that line. They wanted a player in Goc who was more of of a stay at home player.
-This certainly seems like a deal which could benefit each player.
-According to the team's Web site the Penguins' lines in warmups were:
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - David Perron
Beau Bennett - Brandon Sutter - Patric Hornqvist
Nick Spaling - Maxim Lapierre - Steve Downie
Zach Sill - Andrew Ebbett - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Christian Ehrhoff - Robert Bortuzzo
Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres
-Lapierre and Downie on the same line? Okay.
-Lapierre will wear No. 40. The previous No. 40s in Penguins history:
Frank Pietrangelo, Patrick Lalime, Andy Chiodo, Alexander Pechurskiy, Nick Drazenovic.
-We'll go with Frank Pietrangelo - by a hair over Lalime - as the best No. 40.
-The NHL released its explanatory video for the Zac Rinaldo-Kris Letang hit today. There was no mention of his comments following the game where he basically boasted about the hit. We're not sure if the NHL is permitted to officially acknowledge something like a braindead comment when explaining a suspension, but we wouldn't be surprised if those words bought Rinaldo an extra game or two.
-The Penguins' starters are Beau Bennett, Patric Hornqvist, Brandon Sutter, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Mark Arcobello and Scott Harrington.
-The Capitals' starters are Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle, Alex Ovechkin, Karl Alzner, Matt Niskanen and Braden Holtby.
-Their scratches are Andre Burakovsky and Cam Schilling.
19:44: Bennett flings a wrister from the right half wall which Holtby eats up.
18:42: Downie chucks a wrister from the right half wall. Holtby punches it away.
18:35: Lapierre (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) gives big Tom Wilson (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) a thump near the Washington bench. As play moves towards the Penguins' zone, Wilson returns the favor to Lapierre inside the blue line.
18:09: Hillen chucks a wrister from the left point. Fleury eats it up. Wilson gets into it with Downie and Lapierre. Officials separate everyone.
17:15: Off a feed by Crosby, Ehrhoff goes deep into the right circle and lifts a backhander over the net.
15:10: Washington strikes first. With Lapierre centering Sill and Adams, Alzner snaps off a wrister from the left point. Ovechkin estalbis position above the crease on Despres and reaches forward to re-direct the puck under Fleury's blocker. The Penguins were all over the place on that goal. In addition to the fourth line being jumbled, Despres was out with Martin. Alzner and Backstrom get assists. Capitals 1-0.
13:40: Off a feed by Troy Brouwer, Marcus Johansson rips a wrister from the high slot over the cage.
12:49: Off some fancy passing between Crosby and Kunitz, Perron makes a slick move in off the left wing and is enied by Holtby. He draws a delayed penalty in the process.
12:25: Play is halted. John Carlson is called for hooking Perron.
14:21: Scuderi chops a weak slapper from the right point. Holtby steers it away. Crosby, Hornqvist, Kunitz, Martin and Letang take the ice.
10:52: Eric Fehr forces Despres into a turnover at the Capitals' left point. he pushes it up the right wing and as Ehrhoff closes in, he lifts a wrister over the cage.
10:25: The Carlson minor is killed with little threat from the Penguins.
8:59: Adams and Ebbett crash in trying to jam a puck behind Holtby but no dice.
8:50: Hornqvist whacks a puck from in tight to the left of the crease. Holtby holds it out.
8:21: Brouwer corrals a bouncing puck in the left circle and whacks it on net. Fleury fights it off.
8:06: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Despres whips a wrister from the right point through traffic. Holtby snags it.
7:02: Letang chops a slapper from the right point. Spaling is in front and re-directs it on net. Holtby fights it off.
6:46: Off a neutral zone faceoff, Wilson and Sill fight immediately. Wilson uses his size and reach to immediately get an advantage on Sill (6-foot-0, 202 pounds). Sill just hangs on for dear life as Wilson wings a bunch of wild rights. The fight ends when Sill's jersey slides over his face and Wilson slips.
4:35: Orpik thumps Crosby off the puck in Washington's right wing conrer.
4:28: Perron chucks a wrister from the left wing. Holtby knocks it down but allows a rebound in the slot. Crosby dives to swat it on net. Holtby eats it up.
4:15: HUGE save. Taking a touch pass in the neutral zone from Jason Chimera, Michael Latta splits Despres and Scuderi and attacks the net. He draws Fleury to the left of the crease and tries to tuck in a backhander but Fleury is able to kick it out. What a move by Latta and what a save by Fleury.
3:12: A wrister by Kunitz from the left circle is blocked and hops over the cage.
0:00: End of period. Capitals 1, Penguins 0.
-That was a pretty back and forth period. Each team had some chances. The Capitals converted one.
-Despres had a rough period. He lost a positioning battle with Ovechkin for the game's only goal. Additionally, he had a turnover which led to a short-handed chance for Fehr was was toasted on a five-on-five chance by Latta.
-Lapierre was as advertised in that period. He tried to mix it up and antagonize. Even his smile looked evil. He had 4:05 of ice time on five shifts, one shot and was 1 for 3 in faceoffs.
-The Penguins have an 11-8 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 24-16 lead in attempted shots.
-Scuderi (!?!) leads the game with two shots.
-Orpik leads the game with 8:44 of ice time.
-Fire Jim Rutherford.
-Ehrhoff leads the Penguins with 8:23 of ice time.
-The Capitals have a 14-7 lead in faceoffs (67 percent).
-Backstrom is 5 for 6 (83 percent).
-Sutter is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Carlson leads the game with three blocked shots.
19:37: Backstrom fires a wrister from the high slot which catches a stick. Fleury is forced to punch it away.
18:47: Wilson rattles Bortuzzo behind the Penguins' net.
18:20: Laich lifts a wrister from the left wing which Fleury eats up.
18:12: A slapper by Orpik from the left point is blocked.
17:29: A wrister by Crosby from the right circle is blocked by Orpik
17:16: Niskanen corrals a puck in the left circle and whips it on net. Fleury fights it off.
16:42: Bennett whips a wrister from the left circle wide on the near side.
16:23: Niskanen pops a slapper from the right point. It hits Beagle in the back of the right knee. Beagle hobbles to his bench and eventually retreats to the dressing room.
15:37: Ehrhoff air mails a slapper from the neutral zone. Holtby snags it and freezes play.
15:14: Joel Ward (6-foot-1, 226 pounds) pushes a puck up the left wing but is knocked off the puck by a nice body check from Letang (6-foot-0, 201 pounds).
13:46: Mike Green gets loose deep on the right wing and lifts a wrister from the right circle. Fleury eats it up.
13:05: A wrister by Ovechkin off the left wing is blocked.
12:51: Pushing the puck up the left wing, Kunitz lifts a wrister which Holtby eats up.
11:45: Lapierre draws a penalty. Fighting for a puck in the left circle, Hillen lumberjacks the stick out of Lapierre's hands. That's a slashing minor. Hornqvist, Crosby, Perron, Letang and Martin take the ice.
10:20: Ehrhoff cranks a slapper from the left point over the cage.
9:45: The Penguins' power play meekly expires.
7:09: The Capitals get a power play as Perron is called for goaltender interference against Holtby. Spaling, Sutter, Scuderi and Letang take the ice.
5:23: Green chucks a wrister from the left half wall. Fleury snags it.
5:16: Carlson lobs a wrister from the right point. Fleury kicks it out.
5:09: The Capitals' power play doesn't look much better as it expires.
4:52: Off an offensive zone faceoff, Laich lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury eats it up.
4:20: Another penalty. Bortuzzo is called for interference after he dropped Ward in the slot. Sutter, Spaling, Scuderi and Letang take the ice.
4:16: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Ovechkin booms a slapper from the right point. Scuderi blocks it.
3:48: Taking a feed at center point, Green rips a wrister. It glances off a body and Fleurys tops it. Brouwer hacks at Fleury's glove hand to pry the puck loose but play is blown dead.
2:59: Brouwer rips a wrister from the right circle which Fleury fights off.
2:41: Ovechkin does what he does best. Backstrom backhands a puck from the right circle to Green at the high slot. Green slides a pass to Ovechkin in the left circle. Ovechkin powers a one-timer right by the blocker of Fleury on the near side. What a blast. Green and Backstrom get assists. Capitals 2-0.
1:06: Orpik has a wrister from the left point blocked in front.
0:13: Niskanen chops a shot from the right point wide to the far side.
0:00: End of period. Capitals 2, Penguins 0.
-The Penguins just looked dead that period. They had little signs of life. We're not sure if having games on back-to-back nights have had their impact but it doesn't seem to be an issue for the Capitals.
-The Penguins' power play has been just flat tonight.
-The Capitals lead in shots on net, 22-19.
-The Penguins have a 42-40 lead in attempted shots.
-Ovechkin leads the game with five shots.
-Crosby leads the Penguins with three shots.
-Letang leads the game with 16:05 of ice time.
-Orpik leads the Capitals with 14:42 of ice time.
-Fire Jim Rutherford.
-The Capitals control faceoffs, 26-13 (67 percent).
-Fehr was 10 for 13 (77 percent).
-Sutter was 7 for 13 (54 percent).
-Carlson, Laich and Niskanen each lead the game with three blocked shots.
-Martin and Letang each lead the game with two blocked shots.
-An EN reader spotted a Darius Kasparaitis fan roaming Verizon Center:
16:02: After a stagnant start to the period, Backstrom beat Lapierre on a faceoff in the Penguins' right circle. Ovechkin claims the puck and rips it wide of the cage.
15:30: Jay Beagle has a chance in tight blocked by Lapierre.
15:28: Downie gets away with a slash against Alzner near the Penguins' left point.
12:34: From a bad angle on the left wing, Backstrom lifts a wrister on net. Fleurys snags it.
12:25: After the Penguins ice the puck, Downie mixes it up with Latta and Wilson near Washington's left half wall. Officials break it up.
11:53: Perron rips a wrister from the right circle which Holtby fights off.
11:30: Kunitz is out with with Sutter and Bennett for a neutral zone faceoff.
10:47: Backstrom moves by Scuderi in the left circle and lifts a wrister which Fleury fights off.
9:19: Play is halted as Downie and Latta get tangled up in the Washington zone. They drop their glove and lockout. Both players pretty much wrestle around while trying to land a few rabbit punches. Latta gets his right arm free out of his jersey but doesn't do much with it. Official step in and break it up.
8:58: Game. Set. Match. Letang tries to play a dump-in from his own left wing corner out of danger but loses due in part to a forecheck by Laich. Orpik corrals the puck at the left point and fires it towards the cage. Fleury make the inital save as Fehr and Laich crash in but allows a rebound to the left of the cage. Fehr is able to lift the puck by Fleury's blocker on the near side. That was just hard work by the Capitals' third line. Laich and Orpik get assists. Capitals 3-0.
8:44: Off an offensive zone faceoff wing, Niskanen cranks a slapper from the right point on net. Fleury fights it off.
7:36: The rout is on. With the Penguins getting aggressive and pinching in, Evgeny Kuznetsov creates a two-one-one with Green against Bortuzzo. Kuznetsov pushes the puck up the right wing and deals a pass to Green in the left circle. Green rips a wrister by the glove hand of Fleury on the far side. What a shot. This is getting ugly. Kuznetsov and Johansson get assists. Capitals 4-0.
6:55: Things truly get ugly as Ovechkin and Ehrhoff battle for a puck near the referee's crease and Ovechkin simply throws him to the ice with his right arm. Play is halted as a handful of Penguins jump Ovechkin near the Penguins' bench. Sill seems to be leading the charge. Officials pull the scrum apart as athletic trainer Chris Stewart attends to Ehrhoff who is laying on his stomach. Penalties are doled out. Ovechkin gets roughing and holding minors. Sill gets a roughing minor. The Penguins end up with a ower play. Martin, Letang, Crosby, Hornqvist and Perron take the ice. Ehrhoff heads to the dressing room.
5:44: A wrister by Perron is blocked.
5:23: After Perron and Orpik get tied up at the Washington blue line, play is halted for the Penguins being offside. Crosby gives Orpik a drive-by shoulder to the chest. Orpik looks a little stunned then points at Crosby. Crosby skates to Orpik to explain something. Nothing comes of it.
4:34: The power play is wiped out as Kunits is called for a high stick against Chimera in the Capitals' left circle. We'll see four on four play for 37 seconds.
4:17: Ebbett tries to jam in a puck from the right of the cage. Holtby kicks it out as Orpik washes out Ebbett.
3:19: Niskanen whacks a one-timer from the left circle
3:07: Backstrom fires a one-timer from the right circle. Fleury fights it off.
2:56: Niskanen takes a pass in the left circle, has 48 minutes to operate and rips a low wrister which Fleury's left leg kicks out.
2:45: Fleury is still playing. Off a give-and-go with Backstrom, Green taps a one-touch feed from point blank range above the crease. Fleury kicks out his left leg and makes a great save. Wow.
1:52: A wrister by Scuderi from the left point is blocked.
1:45: Ward is called for tripping Despres. Crosby, Hornqvist, Perron, Martin and Letang take the ice.
0:59: Brouwer pushes a puck up the right wing and is pinned against the boards on a hip check by Letang. Brouwer wrestles him to the ice with a leg sweep. Perron skates back and jumps Brouwer and throws a few uppercuts. A dogpile gathers in the Penguins' right circle. Officials break it up. Perron gets a double minor for roughing as Brouwer gets a single minor for roughing.
0:47: A wrister by Perron from the right wing is
0:32: Carlson booms a slapper from the right circle. Fleury fights it off.
0:03: Sill chucks a wrister from the left point. Holtby kicks it out.
0:00: End of game. Capitals 4, Penguins 0.
-First things first,
-We can't pinpoint any specific reason why, but it was clear the Penguins did not have the same effort in this game they displayed the previous night against the Jets or even last week's losses to the Flyers and Blackhawks. The Penguins just seemed lethargic tonight and that's why they got stamped the way they did.
-The power play really let the Penguins down in this game. After scoring two goals the night before without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin - two important, clutch goals - it looked feeble in this game with Sidney Crosby.
-It was interesting to note Chris Kunitz was absent from the varsity power play for the second consecutive game.
-Kunitz was eventually moved from the first line to the second line in the third period. Something is just missing with him.
-It's hard to notice they got trounced in the faceoff circle a night after they traded their best faceoff man in Marcel Goc. The Capitals created quite a bit by simply winning draws.
-Fire Jim Rutherford.
-Beau Bennett and Brandon Sutter, working primarily o the second line, were just absent.
-Maxim Lapierre was okay in his debut. He tried to agitate a few of the Capitals, notably Tom Wilson, and threw his body around. Given the circumstances of having been acquired less than 24 hours ago, it's not fair to truly judge his game. He had 14:15 of ice time on 19 shifts, two shots, one blocked shot and was 4 for 7 in faceoffs (36 percent).
-The fourth line had a few good shifts down low cycling the puck but was on the ice for two goals by Washington.
-Fleury was not the problem tonight. In fact, he stole a few goals. His teammates let him down in a big way.
-Steve Downie was given a 10-minute misconduct for abuse of officials after his fight. NBC didn't really show a clear view of what he did but the rule book is pretty open-ended for how one can earn that penalty:
-The Capitals have shut out the Penguins twice this season using a defense infused with Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik and Todd Reirden.
-Orpik looks miles better than he did last season.
-Newsflash: Alex Ovechkin is good.
-Mike Green looked like the old Mike Green in this game.
-Braden Holtby was obviously good in this game but it's a stretch to say he was tested a great deal.
-The Capitals' third line of Brooks Laich, Joel Ward and Eric Fehr was just a pain in the neck all night for the Penguins.
-The Capitals led in shots, 36-27.
-The Capitals led in attempted shots, 62-58.
-Green led the game with six shots.
-Perron led the Penguins with four shots.
-Letang led the game with 23:06 of ice time.
-Orpik led the Capitals with 22:55 of ice time.
-Fire Jim Rutherford.
-The Capitals had a 39-24 lead in faceoffs (62 percent).
-Fehr was 17-22 in faceoffs (77 percent).
-Sutter was 10 for 19 in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Orpik and Laich each led the game with four blocked shots.
-Fire Jim Rutherford.
-Simon Despres and Kris Letang each led the game with three blocked shots.
-Holtby became the first goaltender to get two shutouts in the same season against the Penguins since former Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur in 2010-11.
-Highlights (so to speak):