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Insider Only Game 1 Analysis: Penguins elevating their play in high pressure situations continued against the Capitals

Penguins 3 – Capitals 2

(PIT LEADS SERIES, 1-0)


GAME LEADERS
PIT Matt Murray | 32 Saves, .941 SV%
PIT Jake Guentzel | Goal, 2 Assists
PIT Sidney Crosby | Goal, Assist
WSH Alex Ovechkin | Goal, Assist
WSH Evgeny Kuznetsov | Goal


GAME 1 ANALYSIS

Matt Murray is a 2-time Stanley Cup Champion goaltender who thrives in pressure situations.

Braden Holtby is not.

The Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 1 turned out to be ‘Groundhog Day’ for Washington.

Braden Holtby shutout the Penguins through the first forty minutes and Alex Ovechkin scored 28 seconds into the third period to put the Capitals ahead 2-0.

Things were surely trending to be the Capitals night with a 2-0 lead in the third and a game Washington absolutely had to take advantage of with Pittsburgh missing Evgeni Malkin.

But, the game would turn out to be how these games usually go, the Penguins finding a way to win in elevating their play in high-pressure situations.

Patric Hornqvist who is notorious for getting the Penguins going when trailing, redirected a Justin Schultz point shot to cut the Capitals lead at 2:59 of the third period.

Sidney Crosby then tied it at 5:20 of the period.

Jake Guentzel then gave the Penguins a lead at 7:48, deflecting a Crosby shot from the left boards that Holtby just can’t let.

It was 3-2 Penguins after goals from Hornqvist, Crosby and Guentzel in a 4:49 span.

Matt Murray then took it over from there in stopping the final 17 shots he faced in the third period as Pittsburgh was outshot 18-8 in the second period, yet, outscored Washington 3-1 in the period.

Murray shined with 32 saves and this game came down to Murray showing the ability to close out the opposition when handed a lead and Holtby failing again to do so.

No save was bigger than a blocker save on Brett Connolly with 2:25 left in regulation.

How Murray elevates his game in pressure situations is a special trait he has and a key distinction between him and Holtby.

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MORE BUZZ

5-on-5 Pittsburgh was out-attempted 64-46 by the Capitals and there were only three power plays called in the game.

7 of Pittsburgh’s 9 top-3 line forwards were all below 50% in possession, except Dominik Simon (50 CF%) and Bryan Rust (56 CF%).

Pittsburgh’s 4th line was awful in trying to generate zone-time as all three fourth line forwards were on the ice for zero shot attempts.

Carter Rowney (0/14, 0%), Tom Kuhnhackl (0/10, 0%), Zach Aston-Reese (0/7, 0%). This 4th line is going to be a problem at somepoint.

However, all Sidney Crosby and his line needed was three shifts in the third period to tilt this game Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"


About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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