PENGUINS EVEN SERIES AT TWO; DEFENSEMAN GONCHAR INJURED ON HIT BY OVECHKIN
After a complete meltdown—offense, defense, special teams, goalie—in a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, the Washington Capitals must turn right around and find a way to bounce back for Game Five tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Verizon Center, where they won Games One and Two. The series is tied at two games apiece.
The Caps 21-year old netminder, Semyon Varlamov, finally had an off night in this playoffs, allowing five goals—four of which his coach described as "soft". And he looked shaky on several of the saves he did make.
"He struggled," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He hasn't a bad game. Arguably, there were four soft goals out of the five, but he'll bounce back."
Asked if he would put Varlamov back out there for Game Five, Boudreau replied, "As far as I'm concerned, yes."
Washington was again out shot, 28-22, and took more penalties (6-4) than their opponent. The Caps were 0-for-4 on the power play.
Alex Ovechkin only managed two shots on goal, and his biggest influence on last night's game was his hit on countryman Sergei Gonchar, which resulted with a knee-on-knee hit that sent Gonchar to the locker room.
Ovechkin was issued a tripping penalty, and it was obvious that Ovechkin was trying to hit Gonchar high, but as the defenseman tried to slip the hit, his upper body got out of the way, leaving his lower body to bear the brunt of the impact.
Pittsburgh players, however, did not like the hit.
"Everyone likes to play hard, and play physical," Orpik added. "But there's a line you can't cross, and a lot of guys in our room felt like the last couple games he was taking shots, where he was trying to hurt guys."
Penguins' coach Dan Bylsma said Gonchar was not ruled out for tonight's game yet, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said while Gonchar travelled with the team, he was wearing a large knee brace in the team's hotel this morning.
Washington got goals from Nicklas Backstrom, Chris Clark, and a short-handed marker from Milan Jurcina.
Pittsburgh's goals came from Bill Guerin, Maxime Talbot, Ruslan Fedotenko, Sidney Crosby, and Gonchar.
Mike Green had one great move that led to Clark's goal, and registered three shots and three hits, but played poorly defensively and was ineffective for most of the night and was minus two in the game. Alexander Semin took four shots and had three hits, but missed four shots and was minus three.