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Takeaways & Observations: Penguins dictate terms of play in most complete game of season vs Caps

holtbyPITTSBURGH 4 – WASHINGTON 0
The Pittsburgh Penguins (14-8-0, 28 pts) put together their most complete game of the season and it was a 60-minute clinic by the Penguins against a quality Washington Capitals (12-9-1, 25 pts)  team. Just a tremendous overall performance by the Penguins securing a 4-0 win.
“Certainly the pace and how we played was excellent,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said afterwards. “We got some real good scoring opportunities.”
Paul Martin (2), Beau Bennett (1), Sidney Crosby (11) and James Neal (2) scored for the Penguins in the win. Crosby had a tic-tac-toe power play goal and added an assist giving him 28 points on the season. Evgeni Malkin had 2 helpers to give him 12 assists in his last nine games. Malkin has now gone 15 games without a goal but again played a very effective game and was 6 of 9 in the faceoff circle.
Marc Andre Fleury made 18 saves to record his second shutout of the season and 25th of his career.
Here are some key takeaways from the win:
  • The Penguins dictated the terms of the play and what they did was making it a skating game, a huge advantage for the Penguins.
  • Defensively the Penguins dominated the neutral zone defensively and the middle of the ice. The way the Penguins have defended for the most part this season is a huge development and it’s had a significant positive effect in leading to improved play from Marc Andre Fleury. Don’t think having a more stable defensive structure doesn’t make it easier on the goaltender.
  • How bad did the Penguins dominate this game: Pittsburgh outshot Washington 40-18 and the Penguins had 60 shot attempts in the victory.
  • The first period was a key turning point. Braden Holtby stunk giving up two poor goals and while the Penguins easily controlled the play, they were very undisciplined and put the Capitals on the power play three times. The penalty kill came up big but the Capitals get one on the power play and Holtby makes routine saves we probably have a different game. “Their power play is a special power play,” Dan Bylsma said. “We had to dig down with three of those kills in the first half of the game which are really big.”
  • As the Penguins that much better than the Capitals? Probably not. “It was not our day at all,” Alexander Ovechkin said. “That kind of games happen.” That is true and I’m sure the Penguins know it. The Capitals were shorthanded on the backend missing Mike Green and John Erskine and a huge mistake the Capitals continue to make under Adam Oates is not playing a heavy game in the offensive zone and using their size upfront to their advantage when matching up against the Penguins. Washington made no effort to play heavy and that’s how you beat the Penguins.  Even last year Oates has looked like an inexperienced head coach against the Penguins.
GAME PUCK

Game puck goes to Paul Martin. He was rock solid defensively as Alexander Ovechkin was held pointless and had 2 shots on goal. Martin’s stat line: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2, 3 SOG, 6 BS, 22:17 TOI

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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