NHL Winter Classic 2011: Following Capitals vs. Penguins at Heinz Field
Welcome to tonight's coverage of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic being played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. My name is Alan Zlotorzynski and I will be with you from the opening puck drop till the final horn sounds for tonight’s contest.
Join me in discussing the rivalry that is the Capitals and Penguins. A rivalry that has more than just tradition on its side but also includes arguably the two best hockey players on the planet, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
The Capitals and Penguins met back on December 23rd as the Penguins' Pascal Dupuis scored the second Penguins goal in a shootout giving Pittsburgh the 3-2 win in Washington.
If tonight’s game is anything like the game on the 23rd or any other Caps-Pens game then this game is named appropriately, a classic you can expect.
The Capitals and Penguins always play a great, hard and physical game. So get your Winter Classic gear on, sit back and join me as we discuss the Pens and Caps as well as poke-checks, back-checks, icing, offsides and everything having to do with tonight's Winter Classic.
Final Score Washington 3 Pittsburgh 1.
The three stars of the game were
#3- Evgeni Malkin (1 Goal)
#2- Eric Fehr (2 Goals)
#1- Semyon Varlamov (32 saves)
It was a great game with non-stop action that went end to end. Each goalie played well but a key mistake in handling the puck cost Fleury and the Pens a goal and the usual quick glove hand of Fleury failed him in Fehr's second goal.
In a break in tradition the two teams did not shake hands after the game like in Winter Classic's past. A clear indication this rivalry has been restarted this season. Stay tuned for this Wednesday's episode of 24/7 Penguins-Capitals to see the final reactions of the players.
Thank you for joining me this evening and please look for my re-cap of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic tomorrow on the bleacherreport.com
The grinders have come up big time all season long for the Capitals and tonight is no exception. Eric Fehr beat Marc-Andre Fleury over his glove for his second goal this evening giving the Capitals a two goal lead
The Capitals working the puck from their own zone converted a give and go for the goal. Caps defenseman John Erskine is two thirds of the way to a Gordy Howe hat trick. Having already been in a first period fight Erskine worked the give and go to Eric Fehr allowing Fehr in one on one with Fleury.
Mark chimera also earned an assist on the goal.
Moments later Marc-Andrea Fleury was grabbed by Alex Ovechkin as Ovechkin scored a goal. Like the incidental contact that dis-allowed a Pittsburgh goal earlier in the game Ovechkin’s was also overturned.
The capitals lead 3-1 with just two minutes remaining.
This change of sides break may benefit the Capitals. Pittsburgh seemed to be picking up momentum with the power play chance. Varlamov is playing huge right now and seems to be seeing the puck real well.
We will see now because he is supposedly at the bad end of the ice.
In the individual rivalry Crosby has four shots with 17 minutes of ice time tonight and no points while Ovechkin has five shots and is a minus one with a little over 15 minutes of ice time.
Are the Capitals showcasing Varlamov to package him in a deal with Semin?
In case anyone was wondering Semin is a minus one tonight with just over ten minutes of ice time. Backstrom and Ovechkin each have over 14 minutes apiece.
Semin has just one shot on goal tonight.
I will say that the play of both goaltenders given the conditions has been sensational. Can you imagine Crosby or Ovechkin shooting a puck at you in the rain?
Some trends to look for in the third period, Washington has been outscored this year in the third period. Jordan Staal has won 70 percent of his face-off chances tonight’s 7/10. Washington's big face-off winner tonight has been Marcus Johansson 6/8.
NBC just reported if the winds continue the teams will switch sides at the ten minute mark of the third period.
I hate to kick a dead horse but NBC blows it again, Eric Fehr gives Washington the lead on Fleury miscue. Penguin’s goalie Marc-Andre Fleury miss-plays the puck behind his own net and this time the Capitals don't miss.
Fehr gets his sixth goal as Marcus Johansson gets the lone assist. Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fluery in what would have probably been a routine play inside gets caught up on the slow surface outside and turns the puck over to Fehr giving the Caps the lead at the second intermission.
Washington killed a late second period Penguins power play.
Washington takes the lead on the shot counter leading 28-24 as Pittsburgh had only eight second period shots.
A late goal by Pittsburgh was waived off due to incidental goalie contact. Michael Rupp and Semyon Varlamov collided in the crease disallowing the goal.
David Steckle ran into Sidney Crosby at the close of the period causing Crosby to leave the ice very slowly. Was the contact incidental? The Washington bench was furious over a slash that Crosby delivered to a Capital that was not called a penalty a few minutes earlier.
Washington is 1-2 on the power play while Pittsburgh is 0-3. The Capitals win 94 percent of their games when leading after two periods.
The third period is setting up for a fantastic finish.
NBC misses the loose puck as Mike Knubble ties the game on the power play. The assists go to Mike Green and Nicholas Backstrom.
Washington playing in front of the net, something rarely seen in D.C this season, ties the game. Watching I could not believe there wasn't a whistle but obviously the puck was in view of referee Paul Devorski as just about every Capital on the ice took a poke at it.
Can you believe The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore is there, that dude is everywhere. I wonder if Justin Timberlake is watching because with the fedora Dan Bylsma is wearing Timberlake may get a peek into what he may look like in ten years.
Great game so far. Quality chances with quality goaltending with hard physical play.
Chimera misses wrap around open net.......
Ovechkin is stone walled by Flower, twice then for a third time to start the period and in transition Evgeni Malkin beats Varlamov for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead. Malkin goes short side on Varlamov.
Washington gets caught with no defense on the ice
Malkin's 14th goal assited by Letang and Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
The pace is fast and furious to start the period as both teams are getting chance after chance.
Brooks Laich gets two minutes for goaltender interference and Pittsburgh gets a chance to go up by two. Questionable call but aren't they all?
Piitsburgh buzzing on the power play.........
This is a typical Pittsburgh-Washington big game first period. Please tell NBC we do not need the overhead coaches camera view.
The answer to the trivia question is Joe Thorton.
Just a little side note for each team. When the Caps score first they win 70 percent of the time, Pittsburgh 84 percent. The Capitals rank in the bottom of the league in that stat. Pittsburgh, the top.
The Penguins and Capitals have completed the first period pf play with no score. Pittsburgh out shot Washington 16-12.
Capitals defenseman John Carlson led both teams with 9:21 of ice time. Pittsburgh's leading ice man was Chris Letang with just under eight minutes.
Letang led both teams with three shots.
Even as a Caps fan after just watching the Bob Costas piece on the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry I would take Crosby's hardware over Ovie's M.V.P's any day. I'm not a Mike Milbury guy but he's correct in saying that this is another stage that Ovechkin needs to step up on to and take the lead.
RUPP SAYS NO MAS! Good first fight of the 2011 Winter Classic. The Capitals John Erskine and Pittsburgh's Michael Rupp mix it up halfway through the first period. Rupp says "I'm done" and both sit for five minutes.
Pittsburgh fails to convert on the power play as both the Caps and Pens are now 0-1. Jordan Staal almost converted for Pittsburgh with the extra man. Both teams have hit the post as both goalies appear to be adjusting to the speed of the puck.
It's almost as if the netminders, Fleury and Varlamov, are over anticipating shots in order to keep them adjusted to a slower ice surface.
Mike Green and Chris Letang are the current time on ice leaders. Each team has 11 shots apiece.
Washington's power play looked ugly. In their last meeting the Caps were 1-6 with the extra man, tonight 0-1.
Washington makes mistakes on the blue line and if you watched the last episode of 24/7 Dan Bylsma made mention of the fact that the Penguins needed to be aware of how careless the Caps can get at the blue line.
Does anybody know who is third behind Ovechkin and Crosby since 2005 in points with 542?
Good no whistle by the referee. The Puck was clearly visible.
Does anyone else get the feeling that NBC is still playing around with camera angles?
Pittsburgh was 0-2 on the power play in their last meeting in Washington. The Pens did give up a short handed goal that tied the game late in the third period.
There are 76 cameras covering this event for five different networks tonight. Would like to see one of those 76 cameras get just a little closer to the game.
Love Doc Emmerick but even he was fooled as to how long that delay would take to fix the glass. The Capitals look like the Red Army with the red helmets.
Washington seems to pushing the play a little more offensively as Pittsburgh is the more physical team to start the game.
The first penalty of the game goes to Pittsburgh's Paul Martin. Washington's power play has struggled in the last month.
How big of a boost do the Penguins get tonight in the return of Jordan Staal? Staal makes his season debut tonight. Staal was recovering in the off-season from foot surgery when he broke his hand.
He will center the second line for the penguins tonight.
The capitals are 4-4-2 in their last ten games while the Penguins are 6-3-1.
Sidney Crosby's 25 game point scoring streak was ended against the New York Islanders on Wednesday night. The Penguins lost in a shootout 2-1.
The Capitals are coming off of a 3-0 home shut out win over Montreal on Tuesday night.
Heinz Field is sold out tonight with almost 68,000 fans in attendance. The NHL Network reported that as many as 30,000 Capitals fans made the trip to Pittsburgh.
Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma is rocking the old school look tonight wearing a "classic" fedora hat.
Pittsburgh will start Marc-Andre Fleury and Washington will counter with Semyon Varlamov. Both Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin's travels have been well documented to this date but did you know that each since coming into the league together have 571 points apiece. That stat pretty much sums up the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry.
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