The Penguins led by three goals before the 22-minute mark of this game. They carried a 3-1 lead into the third period, and they blew it.
Washington rattled off four unanswered goals to defeat the Penguins 4-3.
As you will see throughout this recap, Alexander Ovechkin proved tonight that there really isn't an "AO" in "TEAM".
Right off the opening face-off, Sidney Crosby was looking to break out of his goal scoring drought. Crosby got past two Capitals' defenders and flew in on Jose Theojoke. Sid went to the backhand, but was denied.
The Pens got an early power play just 57 seconds into the game as Shaone Morrison was booked for hooking.
In the ensuing two minutes, the Penguins failed to put any pucks on net and came up empty on the man advantage.
Marc-Andre Fleury continued to be solid between the pipes in the first period, stopping the Capitals' only four shots of the period in the first 10 minutes.
Ovechkin took his first run at Evgeni Malkin early in the first period, resurrecting the seemingly personal vendetta that Ovechjoke has against his fellow countryman.
Semin was sprayed all over the ice as number 28 for the Capitals was called for hooking. The Penguins' power play unit jumped back on the ice, this time looking a little more patient with the puck.
Malkin unloaded a booming slap shot from the point, which sailed wide of the net. Alex Goligoski pinched down from the right point and corralled the bouncing puck. He took a whack at it and missed, but eventually was able to get it toward the net. The wobbling puck somehow found its' way behind Theojoke to give the Pens a 1-0 lead.
Six minutes later Morrison was penalized for hooking again, giving the Penguin power play another opportunity.
Miroslav Satan worked hard along the boards, beating two Capitals' defensemen to a loose puck. Satan worked the puck behind the net to Crosby, who fed a soft pass to Malkin in the high slot. Gino released a wrist shot that deflected off of a Capital in front of the net and snuck between the pillows of Theojoke. 2-0 Pens.
With four seconds remaining in the period Ovechjoke makes selfish play number one of the game. He jumps off the bench early, in an attempt to get to a puck that was bouncing through the neutral zone. By the time he hit the ice, another Capital had already touched the puck and the Caps' were caught with six men on the ice and penalized.
Pittsburgh was on the power play to start the second period. 24 seconds into the period, John Erksine decided he would like to see his name on the score sheet tonight and shot the puck over the glass in his own zone, resulting in a delay of game penalty which gave the Pens a two man advantage.
On the five-on-three, Evgeni Malkin went on a shooting spree. Malkin rattled off four shots from the point. Eventually one of them resulted in a loose puck in front of the net, which was tapped through the crease by Petr Sykora and buried into the net by Satan. 3-0 Pens.
The Capitals needed something to shift the momentum of the game. Enter Matt Bradley. Bradley dropped the gloves with Paul Bissonnette, which was probably the biggest mistake Bradley has made since accepting the captaincy of the Washington Capitals.
Bissonnette landed the first punch, which cut Bradley in multiple places on his face. Bradley hit the ice, but pulled himself back up, only to get pummeled some more by Biz Nasty.
Despite Bradley being destroyed by Biz, the Capitals managed to gain some momentum from the bout. Tomas Fleischmann took advantage of a gratuitous bounce in front of the Penguins' net and whisked a nifty backhand shot past Fleury to make it 3-1 Pens.
Not much happened for the rest of the period, besides Ovechjoke taking multiple runs at Malkin, the last of which should have warranted a charging call. Ovechjoke took five or six solid strides through center ice before lining up Malkin in front of the Pens' bench. Malkin was able to avoid the brunt of the hit, and Eric Godard offered his thoughts via a verbal assault on Ovechjoke from the bench.
Ovechjoke got his first shot of the game late in the second period, but Fleury stood tall to make the save.
The third period was ugly for Pittsburgh. They were outplayed in every aspect of the game.
Semin exploded in Fleury's face as number 28 let go his patented toe-drag wrist shot from the top of the left face-off circle to make it 3-2 Pens.
Michael Nylander took advantage of an odd-man rush, scoring off of a nice feed from Fleischmann to even the score at three.
Just over five minutes later, Boyd Gordon scored what would ultimately be the game winning goal as he beat Fleury top shelf. Play resumed after Gordon's shot because the official had waived off the goal, but upon further review from the War Room in Toronto, the goal stood.
The Penguins' pulled Fleury in a last ditch effort to tie the game. Enter Alexander O-selfish-kin. With under 40 seconds to play Ovechkin decided to go for the empty net goal. The problem was, he was standing at his own blue line. The puck sailed wide and the face-off came all the way back to the Caps' zone, giving the Pens a legitimate chance at tying the game.
To further my point about the selfishness of Ovechkin, Penguin broadcasters Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey pointed out how Ovechkin completely disregarded defensive responsibility to creep behind the Penguins' defensemen when the puck was in the Capitals' zone. This would be the equivalent of cherry picking in basketball.
Ovechjoke might score 60 goals again this season, but I'll take any defensively responsible forward over this cherry picker on my left wing any day of the week.
- The Pens were three for six on the power play, a seemingly reassuring stat, except they failed to score an even strength goal.
- Pascal Dupuis has elevated his game from a season ago. He has an extra hop in his step, which enables him to be the first man to a lot of loose pucks, creating rushes up the ice for Crosby and Satan.
- Satan still looks like he hasn't settled into his role as Sid's winger. It's still very early in the season, but one reassuring stat is that Satan is converting on the power play.
- Kris Letang played his best game of the season tonight.
- Hal Gill was the only Penguin who stood up to Ovechjoke tonight. Gill gave AO a solid face-wash as Alex attempted to gain the Penguins' zone on the right wing, stopping the Russian winger in his tracks. The USS Gill was full steam ahead tonight.
- When the Penguins figure out how to balance their scoring on the power play with their scoring at even strength, they will be tough to beat.
- Tonight was Gino's breakout game. He recorded nine shots in the first two periods, and really looked commanding with the puck on the power play. Look for him to shatter his 07-08 goal total this year.
- Four of the Pens' first five games have been decided by one goal (2-1-1).
- The Pens resume action on Saturday night against the Leafs at Mellon Arena. It will be the last of their four game home stand before they head to Bean Town on Monday night.
Full post at Experiencing the Evolution