Tha Sports Junkies 101

Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals series recap

Penguins Keith Allison / via flickr.com

NHL

The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 2-0 Wednesday, May 10th, finishing the series in seven games

This series had many plot twists, from the Penguins going up 3-1 and blowing it to Crosby missing a game with a concussion. This was a crazy series that went all the way.

Here’s a game by game recap of this second round series.

Game 1

Pittsburgh wins 3-2

After a scoreless 1st period to start the series, Sidney Crosby came out flying. He scored two goals in 1:04 to start the second period.

The Capitals answered back with a pair of goals to even the score at 2-2. But 12:36 into the third, Nick Bonnino scored to put the Penguins up 3-2.

That’s how the game would end, with Pittsburgh winning 3-2 and taking a 1-0 series lead.

Washington outshout Pittsburgh 35-21.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves on 35 shots for Pittsburgh.

Braden Holtby made 18 saves on 21 shots for Washington.

Game 2

Pittsburgh wins 6-2

Just like Game 1, this game had a scoreless 1st.

In the second period, both teams came out flying. Matt Cullen scored for Pittsburgh 1:15 into the second, while Matt Niskanen tied it up 2:09 in.

After this, Pittsburgh would answer back by scoring three unanswered goals, including two from Phil Kessel and one from Jake Guentzel.

Nicklas Backstrom would answer back 3:44 into the 3rd to make it 4-2 Pittsburgh. But the Penguins wouldn’t let up, getting another pair of goals from Evgeni Malkin and Guentzel.

That would end it with a score of 6-2 Pittsburgh. The Penguins now had a 2-0 series lead.

Washington outshout Pittsburgh 36-24.

Fleury had 34 saves on 36 shots for Pittsburgh.

Holtby had 11 saves on 14  shots for Washington.

Philipp Grubauer had 7 saves on 9 shots for Washington.

Game 3

Washington wins 3-2 in OT

This will go down as the game that saw Niskanen hit Crosby 5:24 into the first period. As many already know, Crosby suffered a concussion on this play, while Niskanen received a five minute major and a game misconduct on the play. Needless to say, Crosby missed the remainder of this game.

So, with Crosby out of the game continued.

The scoring started when Backstrom scored 13:05 into the first. The Capitals added another 9:46 into the third when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored. With the Penguins down two goals and less than two minutes remaining on the clock, the game seemed out of reach.

But with 1:53 reaming in the third, Malkin scored to make a 2-1 Capitals lead. With the momentum on the Penguins side, Justin Schultz scored his first goal of the playoffs to tie it at 2-2 with just 1:05 remaining in the game.

The game went into overtime after the Capitals blew a 2-0 lead late in the third. This would suggest the Penguins are going to win the game. But that wasn’t the case.

3:13 into overtime, trade deadline acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk came through to win it for the Capitals and getting the series to 2-1 Pittsburgh.

Washington outshout Pittsburgh 33-30.

Holtby made 28 saves on 30 shots for Washington.

Pittsburgh made 30 saves on 33 shots for Pittsburgh.

Game 4

Pittsburgh wins 3-2

The Penguins went into this game with a huge hill to climb. They would be playing without their captain Sidney Crosby.

That didn’t stop Crosby’s often line mate Patric Hornqvist from scoring. Just 4:39 into the first, Hornqvist scored the game’s opening goal.

The red hot Jake Guentzel scored just 3:51 into the second, giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.

Side note, is it just me or did there seem to be a lot of early 2nd period goals in this series?

Not long after Guentzel scored, the also red hot Kuznetsov scored at 7:21 into the second, giving Washington their first goal of the game.

This was followed by Nate Schmidt scoring 8:33 into the second and tying the game at 2-2.

Pittsburgh answered backed after seeing their 2-0 lead evaporate when Schultz scored 11:24 into the third. This would end up being the game winning goal as Pittsburgh won the game 3-2 and took a controlling 3-1 series lead.

Washington outshout Pittsburgh 38-19.

Fleury made 36 saves on 38 shots for Pittsburgh.

Holtby made 15 saves on 18 shots for Washington.

Game 5

Washington wins 4-2

Just like Pittsburgh the game before, Washington had a tall hill to climb. They where down 3-1 in the series and Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby was returning to action in this game.

Things didn’t look good for the Capitals when Carl Hagelin opened the scoring 10:24 into the first period.

But things took a turn for the good for the Capitals when Andre Burakovsky answered with just 30 seconds left into the first.

Kessel scored the only second period goal 4:20 into the period. This gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

This looked good for Pittsburgh when they went into the third up 2-1. Was it possible they would take the series in just 20 more minutes?

This would not be the case as the Capitals came out in the third period playing for their lives. They got three goals in the period from Backstrom, Kuznetsov and Alexander Ovechkin to win the game 4-2.

This put the Capitals well within reach now, with Pittsburgh leading the series 3-2.

Washington outshout Pittsburgh 32-22.

Holtby made 20 saves on 22 shots for Washington.

Fleury made 28 saves on 32 shots for Pittsburgh.

Game 6

Washington win 5-2

The Penguins now seemed to have a lot to worry about. They didn’t want to give a really good Washington team any breathing room, but losing Game 5 is just what that did. Many, myself included, thought if Pittsburgh was going to win this series, they had to do it in Game 6.

T.J. Oshie would score the only first period goal, 12:41 in.

Burakovsky scored 6:36 into the second to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead.

Some worried Washington would sit back in the third and blow their 2-0 lead. This wasn’t the case as Washington came out flying scoring three in the third, including one from Backstrom just 16 seconds into the period. John Carlson and Burakovsky added the others, giving Washington a 5-0 lead.

Guentzel and Malkin would score for good measure, but it was too little, too late for Pittsburgh

The Penguins lost the game 5-2 and the series was tied 3-3. We were going to a Game 7.

Washington outshout Pittsburgh 26-18.

Holtby made 16 saves on 18 shots for Washington.

Fleury made 21 saves on 26 shots for Pittsburgh.

Game 7

Pittsburgh wins 2-0

Here we are. Game 7. The best part of sports.

This game was predicted almost unanimously by analyst and fans alike. Washington was going to win this game. Can you really blame them? Pittsburgh had a 3-1 series lead despite never outshouting Washington throughout the series. Pittsburgh’s best player had been Marc-Andre Fleury all playoffs, but he had gone cold in the last two games. Things didn’t look good for the Penguins.

No one could get a goal in the 1st.

It would be almost half way through the second, 8:49 to be exact, before someone would get on the score sheet.

It would be Brian Rust for the Penguins who would open up the games scoring.

Going into the third the underdog Penguins were up 1-0. But there was still a lot of hockey left to be played.

4:14 in the third, Hornqvist put what seemed to be an innocent backhand on net, but in fooled Holtby, and went in. This made it a 2-0 Pittsburgh game.

Washington fought hard the remainder of the third, trying to keep their season alive. However, they couldn’t get anything going.

Pittsburgh had won Game 7 2-0 and won the series 4-3.

Washington outshout Pittsburgh 29-28.

Fleury stopped all 29 shots for the series’ only shutout for Pittsburgh.

Holtby made 26 saves on 28 shots for Washington.

Is this another choke for Washington?

Before these playoffs even started, Washington was known as a team that “choked” when it got to the second round. Needless to say, this series didn’t help that reputation.

But is that reputation fair?

Well, for the second straight year Washington went into the playoffs as the President’s Trophy winners. For the second straight year, Washington scraped by a team that barley made the playoffs. And, you guessed it, for the second straight year, they lost to Pittsburgh in the second round.

It seems like a team that “chokes” in the second round to me.

But, this series is a little different.

Washington outshout Pittsburgh in every game. And in every game that Pittsburgh won, it felt like Fleury won them the game. Had Fleury not been playing in this series, and an average NHL starter was playing, Washington wins this series.

Regardless of who was in net, the expectations for Washington were higher, not only this year but last year, too.

Difference maker for the Penguins

As stated above, Fleury was great.

He was the difference maker in this series.

Fleury saved a Penguins team that seemed struggle getting many shots. On the other hand, his goaltending opponent Branden Holtby didn’t seem very sharp all series long.

While they did seem to switch roles in games 5 & 6, for the most part, it appeared Fleury saved the Penguins while Holtby couldn’t steal a game.

Moving on

Washington may have missed their last opportunity to be a true cup contender in the NHL.

The Washington Capitals will have a lot of good unrestricted free agents going into the off season. The following players are unrestricted free agents come July 1st:

Oshie, T.J.

Williams, Justin
Winnik, Daniel

Alzner, Karl

Shattenkirk, Kevin

Its hard to see Washington being a cup contender if none of those guys come back.

As for Pittsburgh, they’ll have questions to answer of their own come off-season time, but for now their heading to the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators.