Penguins gain valuable point in shootout loss
The Washington Capitals scored three consecutive shootout goals and Mike Knuble scored the decisive goal in the fourth round of the shootout as the Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.
The Capitals (49-14-10, 108 pts) improved to 27-4-4 on home-ice and have won all three meetings against Pittsburgh, outscoring the Penguins 7-1 in the third period. Third period troubles against the Capitals date back to last season, where the Penguins were outscored 9-1 in the third period by the Capitals during the 2008-2009 regular season.
Trailing 2-1, Washington struck again in the third period as Alexander Semin scored a short-handed goal with a great effort and Eric Fehr added another goal in the third but it was Pittsburgh with the late heroics in regulation as Jordan Staal fired a wrist shot past Jose Theodore to tie the game 3-3 with just 3:06 remaining in the third.
Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins in the shootout.
Playing without Evgeni Malkin for the fourth time in five games and Sergei Gonchar who was a late scratch about 90 minutes before game time due to an illness, Pittsburgh played an inspired game against the Capitals.
Pittsburgh played with emotion early and controlled the play in the first period, outshooting the Capitals 17-9 in the first.
Mike Knuble scored just a 1:09 into the second period and Pittsburgh responded as the Penguins 4th line scored a gritty goal a 1:11 later as Max Talbot deflected a Brooks Orpik wrist shot past Jose Theodore to tie the game at 1-1.
Role players such as Tyler Kennedy and Max Talbot had a strong game.
A good sign for the Penguins is that they actually played with some life. With no Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby playing some what of a supporting role, netting only an assist in the loss, Pittsburgh was pushing the play, putting up 42 shots on Jose Theodore who had a strong game.
Scheme wise the Penguins simplified their system and played more of a structured game instead of running out of position which has been a common theme of late.
Despite the loss, what will be intriguing over the next 2-3 games is if Pittsburgh begins to build off of tonight’s game.
Head coach Dan Bylsma is disappointed at being 0-3 against Washington this season but was pleased with the way his team played in the loss.
“Would I like to be 4-0? Yes, I think that would be better for our team,” Bylsma said. “But I also like the way we played and I like the way we’ve gone to overtime now twice. That’s the way we need to play.”
Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury made 29 saves in the loss and played well making timely saves.
Inside The Numbers
*The Penguins are now 3-8 without Evgeni Malkin in the lineup.
*Sidney Crosby was scoreless in tonight’s game and hasn’t scored a goal in eight of his last nine contests. Crosby remains stuck on 45 goals and no longer appears to be a lock for 50 goals.
*Defenseman Kris Letang led all Penguins defenseman with 24:55 of ice time. Jordan Leopold was second with 24:01.
*Washington has scored two or more goals in its last 32 games and have out-scored their opponents 48-17 in the third period over the past 28 games.
*The Penguins fell to 7-2 in shootouts. Sidney Crosby is 7-for-9 in shootouts this season.
*Pittsburgh is a combined 0-9 against the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils this season.
*Defenseman Sergei Gonchar was sidelined with an illness, while Evgeni Malkin sat out for the fourth time in five games with a bruised right foot. Eric Godard was a healthy scratch for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins played a disciplined game and were only whistled for one penalty.
Pittsburgh moved into first place in the Atlantic division with 91 pts. The Penguins are a point ahead of the New Jersey Devils who have two games in hand.