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Game 4 The Momentum Game

Does momentum from one game swing to another? When you have a case of a superior team up against an inferior team it often does in all sports.

Just look at the Penguins first round series with New York.

From Sidney Crosby’s game tying goal in Game 3 with 48 seconds left in the second period, it was a game changing and momentum tilting goal for the entire series. Pittsburgh went on to out-score New York 14-3 over the final 141 minutes of the series. The superior team gained momentum from one game and it never left their side.

You look at the NBA for example, the big one that stands out is the 2015 NBA finals. A beaten down Cleveland Cavaliers team won Game 3 behind LeBron James to take a 2-1 series lead but the Warriors in the loss found their swagger in the 4th quarter, dominated the rest of the series.

There’s proof in most sports that momentum from one game does swing to another but what about two evenly matched teams like we have in this series?

Despite a Game 3 loss to fall down 2-1, the mood in the Capitals room is that they have the momentum. From Alex Ovechkin, to the rest of the team, Washington believes their group has awaken and started to find their A-game.

They have some numbers to back it up their momentum narrative.

Over the last four periods of hockey, Washington has out-shot Pittsburgh 63-30, out-attempted the Penguins 114-52. including an 83-45 edge in 5 v 5 shot attempts. Washington with a 5 v 5 on-ice corsi percentage of 66.4%, Pittsburgh 35.2%.

Yet, it’s the Penguins who have outscored Washington 4-3 over the last four periods played.

All of the pressure is on Washington tonight to even up the series 2-2 and they have to take advantage of Pittsburgh having no Kris Letang, arguably the Penguins most important player. Pittsburgh has lost 9 of 11 games that Letang has missed this season.

“We’ll try to take advantage of them missing a terrific defenseman,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.

We’ll also find out if the Capitals truly have momentum in the series despite being down 2-1 and if their superior play in Game 3 can actually carry over into Game 4.

Don’t be surprised if this one comes down to which star takes over the game.

From Pittsburgh’s side of things, this is the type of game where you’re missing your No. 1 defenseman and the game will likely fall on the shoulders of the two star centers.

Unless Matt Murray has another sensational performance in him, if Crosby and Malkin play at the same level they did in Game 3, the series will in all likelihood be going back to Washington tied 2-2.

Latest Lineup Buzz

D Changes Again for Caps

— Washington will make another change on the backend with Mike Weber entering the lineup and Nate Schmidt to the press box. Despite Schmidt’s struggles, on the ice for 4 goals against in series, and a brutal turnover on the Hagelin goal, Mike Weber being able to handle the Penguins speed is quite the risk to take for the Capitals.

If you’re Mike Sullivan, you have to be licking your chops to get the Bonino line with Hagelin and Kessel’s speed on the wings out against Weber at nearly every opportunity.

Expect heavy minutes from Alzner, Niskanen and Carlson.

Marcus Johansson will play, Caps coach Barry Trotz confirmed.

Sullivan on Goaltending Situation

Matt Murray will, as expected, get the start in Game 4. Just like he handled the Tomas Vokoun situation well, Marc Andre Fleury is handling this situation extremely well. He knows there’s no reason to make a change.

Here was Mike Sullivan’s take this morning:

“With as well as Matt has been playing, common sense would suggest that we should probably stay with him, but having said that 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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