Washington let a good display of hockey go to waste Monday night at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Caps had a chance at redemption tonight at the Consol Energy center. The first game featured a fast paced scoring affair, but the next match up was fast in a different way.
The first period went by so fast as game action went over 13 minutes without a whistle. The period was dominated by Pittsburgh and they finally got the result for their hard work. Dmitry Orlov turned the puck over in the defensive zone and Jussi Jokinen got the deflection off of a Matt Niskanen slap shot past Jaroslav Halak.
Washington came out flat after the first intermission break, but generated some good offensive zone-time near the second frames end. The best chance was on a rebound as Evgeny Kuznetsov was robbed by the skate of Marc-Andre Fleury for his first career goal.
The Capitals were outshot 26-13 through two periods of action, but Halak did his part in keeping the game within reach. Washington dominated the third frame in the offensive zone as they got 20 shots on net. The Caps had a power play chance during the third, but it was negated mid way through the extra man time by a questionable high-sticking call against Nicklas Backstrom.
They were unable to get anything past Fleury throughout the third period and the Penguins closed the door with just under six minutes left. Orlov was unable to keep the puck inside the offensive zone at the blue line and got caught up pinching against the boards.
Pittsburgh came down with a two on one odd man rush against the young Connor Carrick. Crosby, instead of passing it to Kunitz, elected to shoot it past Halak for the dagger.
After coming off a subpar performance the night before, Jaroslav Halak was good in goal for the Caps. He was consistently challenged throughout the first two periods and was able to keep it to a one-goal game. Halak did every bit of his part to give his team a chance to win.
Evgeny Kuznetsov looked a lot more comfortable in his second game of action. He was not afraid to use his stick skills to work his way into the offensive zone through traffic and even generated some of the better scoring chances in the game when in front of the net. He was a skate blade away for his first career goal in the NHL.
Defense has been the main issue throughout the season and depth is a concern. The two young defensemen, Connor Carrick and Dmitry Orlov, have struggled consistently across the season and they were victims tonight. Orlov was getting worked the whole sixty-minute match tonight and his two defensive errors led to both Pittsburgh goals. Mike Green has also let forwards with speed get behind him too easily as of late, Green has been bad defensively.
The Capitals had their chances in this mini series vs. the divisional foes, but were unable to muster any points. Adam Oates is now 0-7 against the Penguins since being hired as head coach and the Caps have lost eight straight to the Pens. That is a feeling that will not sit well for Caps fans over the next year. The Caps resume action Friday night against the struggling Canucks; the panic button could be within fingertip’s reach if they do not get on a streak.