PENGUINS – CAPITALS X’S AND O’S
Capitals coach Adam Oates expressed frustration in the Capitals not being able to close out the game after taking a 3-2 lead on an Alexander Ovechkin third period goal.
“We played pretty good game but figured out way to lose it tonight,” Oates said. “We had two chances in third. Too many mistakes on both goals. We had two leads, we blew it. Thought on both goals we should have changed, we didn’t, got little tired. They got great players, Malkin makes fantastic rush on goal, the winner. It’s a shame. You play good hockey game and you don’t want to blow points.”
The Capitals getting beat on Jussi Jokinen’s game tying goal at 11:35 of the third period was a situation where the Capitals had numbers where the play should have been defended well but Brandon Sutter and Jokinen would end up making great individual plays on the goal.
As seen on the overhead replay, the Capitals had the Penguins pretty much defended four on two but the first mistake for Washington was Eric Fehr trying to make a stick check on Sutter instead of taking the body and with Fehr taking himself out of the play with a lazy poke check, Sutter is able to walk around Connor Carrick, while Niklas Backstrom doesn’t stay with Jokinen behind the net and Dmitry Orlov is a second too late in picking up Jokinen in front as Sutter makes a backhand pass through Backstrom to setup Jokinen for the goal.
“Niskanen made good play to bring puck in and gave it to Sutsy’s, and he made nice move there on boards and got puck to me on backdoor and was a big goal for us,” Jokinen said.
It was just excellent execution on the goal from Sutter and Jokinen and a positive for the Penguins Wednesday night was getting impact games in a big way from players not named Malkin or Crosby.
Three of those players were Jokinen, Taylor Pyatt and Olli Maatta.
Jokinen’s game is really starting to come around of late with 4 goals and 8 points in his last six games. Jokinen was very patient with the puck vs the Capitals and was efficient at letting the play develop.
Pyatt playing with Evgeni Malkin and Jokinen on the second line, had his most impactful game as a Penguin. Pyatt scored his first goal of the season at 16:08 of the second period beating Michal Neuvirth with a snap shot in the slot after a great feed from Maatta.
On Pyatt’s goal, the Penguins came into the zone with space and time and Jussi Jokinen patiently pulled up just inside the Capitals zone and got the puck over to Maatta at the left point who carried the puck down the left side and got Tom Wilson to go down with his now famous pump fake and made just a great setup in front to Pyatt.
Maatta getting Wilson to go down with the fake put the Capitals in no mans land defensively for a split second as Connor Carrick who was engaged with Pyatt in front was then forced to take the puck carrier in Maatta and John Erskine was not quick enough in rotating down to Pyatt in slot who buried one past Neuvirth.
The execution was strong again for the Penguins on Maatta’s game winning goal with 1:54 left in regulation as the Penguins established zone time and got traffic in front on Neuvirth with a screen from Pyatt as Neuvirth had no chance on the shot.
The things we saw from Maatta last night continue to amaze his head coach.
“Olli as a 19 year old making this team has been is consistency, poise and how he plays the game,” Dan Bylsma said. “Tonight a great example. He’s out there for their second goal on a d-zone play that goes through his feet and he comes right back later on in period with play on first goal, pump fake coming out to him, he gets their guy to go down for the fake shot, walks around and makes a great play to Pyatt there. I have not seen it from a 19 year old. So, pretty impressive tonight. Keep saying it, just not something you see from a 19 year old defenseman who can play with this type of poise and composure.”
While the execution was very good from the Penguins in some areas last night, it was far from a perfect game, starting with Kris Letang. A Letang turnover leading to a Brooks Laich shorthanded goal to go with a lazy backcheck from Evgeni Malkin were among the key gaffes, along with Bylsma making a bonehead coaching move in putting three defensemen out for a 4-on-4 that led to an Alexander Ovechkin goal.