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Insider Only Post-Game Analysis: Team effort, Pens stifle Capitals with strong gap control and defensive play; Caps in need of personnel shakeup?

Pittsburgh 2 – Washington 1

Post-Game Thoughts
— The Penguins earned their first regulation (regular season) win in Washington since March 9, 2008 due to a strong defensive effort, defeating Washington 2-1, improving to a league best 15-7-4, 34 pts on the season.
The Penguins limited Washington to just 17 shots on goal and aside from a flurry of chances early in the second period, Washington was stifiled defensively by the Penguins who had two rookie defensemen in the game and one of the two, Simon Despres making his NHL debut.
Head coach Dan Bylsma did not try to hide either player as Despres and Robert Bortuzzo were on the ice in the final five minutes of play as the Penguins were holding on to a 2-1 lead.
Bortuzzo saw 12:21 of ice time, earning a +1 rating, while Despres assisted on Chris Kunitz game winning third period goal and was a +2 in the win, while logging 10:30 of ice time.
“{He} looked good, looked confident, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said about Despres play.
The Penguins limited Washington to 2 shots in the third period and the Capitals were not a threat offensively, especially late in the game when they trailed.
The Penguins gap control in the neutral zone played a big factor in limiting the Capitals from mounting scoring chances off the rush.
— Few times the Penguins are going to come out on the winning side when Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and James Neal all go pointless in a game. Tonight it was the likes of 4th liners  Craig Adams (goal), Richard Park (assist) and Arron Asham (assist) providing the offense.
Tomas Vokoun made 33 saves in the loss and he’s a good goaltender but far from an elite goaltender. He made a gaffe on Kunitz third period tally and those in Washington are questioning whether the Capitals truly upgraded their goaltending enough.
— It was an odd game from Alexander Ovechkin. In the first period, he came out of the gates flying, hitting anything that moved and playing with the type of aggressiveness that made him such an unique player when he was at the top of his game a few years ago. However, as the game progressed, the intensity Ovechkin had in the first 6 to 8 minutes was gone and he was not a factor offensively, collecting just 1 shot on goal.
Ovechkin though took home the No. 3 star, leading the Capitals with 10 hits. Caps media is still drinking the kool-aid.
— Looking at this Capitals team, they  are hard to evaluate from the standpoint that Mike Green is out of the lineup but offensively this team has a lot of holes. They have a strong third line with Chimera – Laich and Ward, but with Mike Knuble aging, Alexander Semin underachieving so much and the same for Alexander Ovechkin, they are an easy team to defend right now. This is a team in need of a shakeup personnel wise.
Paul Martin earned the games No. 1 star in the win. Martin had a game high 28:11 of ice time. He played well defensively but if Letang remains out, the Penguins should consider a switch on the power play. Pittsburgh went 0-3 on the power play.
Martin a pass first player has no confidence in his shot and is not a threat to shoot the puck on the power play. Martin hasn’t scored since December 4, 2010, span of now 75 regular season games. Matt Niskanen would be an ideal replacement at the point on the power play.
Sidney Crosby was held pointless for the second time this season. For those scoring at home, Crosby is now averaging 1.83 points per game and is on pace for 114 points. Crosby came into the game with points in 19 of 21 career games vs Capitals. Evgeni Malkin’s point streak ends at five games.
Marc Andre Fleury earned his 14th victory of the season, tying Detroit’s Jimmy Howard for the league lead. The victory was Fleury’s 198th career win and he is on pace to become the 4th fastest youngest goaltender to 200 wins.

The Penguins are a team that prides themselves on the puck possession game. Tonight they struggled in the faceoff circle for the third straight game. Pittsburgh won just 17 of 54 draws (31.5%) against Washington, and in the past three games, the Penguins have won just 59 of 179 draws (33%).

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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