Preseason quick recaps: September 29th

While the hockey world wasn’t treated to a Panthers-Hurricanes game thanks to a tropical storm, there were eight other games that only mattered a little bit tonight. Let’s take a look at them.

Nashville 4, Atlanta 3

Plus: It was a great night for the two teams’ power plays, as all but one connected for a goal (the Predators went 2 for 3 while the Thrashers went 1 for 1). Martin Erat stood out with two goals and one assist while Ryan Suter put together a nice one goal, one assist game. Johnny Oduya provided two assists for the Thrashers.

Minus: A fantastic night for a team’s PP comes at the expense of the PK unit, so Nashville stopped 0 percent and Atlanta shut down 33 percent of the man advantages (it’s fun to play with tiny samples, right?).

NY Rangers 5, Detroit 1

Plus: Henrik Lundqvist had a great game, turning away 34 of 35 shots. Ruslan Fedtenko continues his preseason hot streak with two assists in this one. Marian Gaborik scoring a goal and assist is one thing, but Derek Stepan’s one goal, one assist performance might help him make the team.

Minus: The Red Wings were pretty flat in this one, probably because they’re aware that this is the preseason. Still, losing a game 5-1 when you never allow more than 10 SOG in one period is a little troubling.

Philadelphia 3, NY Islanders 1

Plus: Jeff Carter put up two goals while the humorously named Sergei Bobrovsky put together another nice performance, stopping 32 out of 33 shots.

Minus: Of course, the Flyers did it against the Islanders B-team, which is a lot like player a normal NHL squad’s C-team.

Washington 4, Boston 1

Plus: The Capitals rested Alex Ovechkin, so Nicklas Backstrom took it upon himself to score two goals. Jason Chimera produced two assists in this one.

Minus: The Capitals only had 10 shots going into the third period (6 in the first, 4 in the second) while the Bruins only had 15. Not exactly the height of competition, right there.

Toronto 4, Ottawa 3

Plus: Whipping boy of the moment Nazem Kadri scored two goals and added one assist, including Toronto’s only even strength goal. The Leafs power play produced three goals and nine opportunities. This game produced this hysterical fight.

Minus: Senators fans hoping for the best from Pascal Leclaire this season probably want to ignore this one, as the buck-toothed goalie allowed four goals on only 19 shots.

Edmonton 4, Phoenix 3 (SO)

Plus: Ilya Bryzgalov earned the game’s star presumably by not being totally awful. Petr Prucha produced two assists while Scottie Upshall had a goal and an assist. Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky scored shootout goals to help the Oilers win the game.

Minus: Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers was pulled at the half-way mark in the game, leading many to wonder if he might get waived soon.

Calgary 3, NY Islanders 2

Plus: Rick DiPietro played in this game without his knee exploding, which makes his tepid 12-for-15 performance easier to stomach. Meanwhile Miikka Kiprusoff was solid in 40 minutes of duty (15 of 16 shots stopped).

Minus: Sure, the Flames won, but they beat half of the Islanders team. I wouldn’t get too excited about it.

San Jose 6, Vancouver 2

Plus: The Sharks dominated this game, particularly on the man advantage with four power-play goals. Dany Heatley, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski each scored one goal and one assist while Joe Thornton provided two assists. Raffi Torres scored two goals and Dan Hamhuis produced two assists for Vancouver.

Minus: Christian Ehrhoff attempted to start a fight, apparently inspired by Alex Kovalev.

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    Holtby ‘wasn’t as sharp as he can be,’ says Trotz

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    Presidents’ Trophy winners once again in the regular season, the Capitals once again face an uphill climb if they are to advance beyond the rival Penguins and the second round of the playoffs.

    What began with a strong first period for the Capitals in Game 2, albeit without a reward on the score board, faded into a frustrating 6-2 rout, as the Penguins took a commanding 2-0 series lead as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for a pivotal Game 3 on Monday.

    Braden Holtby was pulled after the second period. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, while his opponent at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant with 34 saves.

    “He’ll tell you that he can be better. He’s a straight up guy and he will be. I was just trying to change the mojo,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz of his decision to sit Holtby.

    “I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. So when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit there. That’s all. Braden’s our backbone. He has been all year. We’ve got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby.”

    Now in a deep but not insurmountable hole against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Capitals reportedly held a players’ only meeting following this latest defeat.

    After failing to open the scoring in an otherwise dominant first period, Washington surrendered three goals in the second, as the Penguins broke it wide open with their transition game, led by two great plays from Sidney Crosby.

    “We can’t get frustrated. I think that would be our biggest mistake is to get frustrated right now,” said T.J. Oshie, before expanding on the meeting between the players.

    “It was things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear. We were very together with what we said. I don’t need to go into details. Sometimes in our game … you need to hear from your teammates more than your coach. And tonight was one of those nights.

    “It was the players in here and what was said is what needed to be said.”

    We’ll find out Monday if what was said actually has any impact on the ice.

    Penguins rout Capitals to take commanding series lead

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    The Washington Capitals are in trouble. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Again.

    Despite a dominant first period, at least in terms of shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and puck possession, the Capitals saw this game go sideways in a hurry during the second period, on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 2.

    Washington is now in quite a hole, trailing its nemesis 2-0 in this second-round series.

    Last year, Matt Murray stymied the Capitals. Though it’s only been two games this year, Fleury has stepped up in the absence of the injured Murray and given the Penguins solid goaltending and frustrated a dangerous Capitals lineup.

    After withstanding the storm of pressure from the Capitals in the first period, the Penguins broke this game open with a trio of second-period goals. It started with a shorthanded goal from Matt Cullen, and later continued with a beautiful goal from Phil Kessel and then Jake Guentzel‘s sixth goal of these playoffs.

    That led Barry Trotz to take Braden Holtby out of the game, after he gave up three goals on 14 shots, putting in Phillip Grubauer to begin the third period. The Penguins continued the onslaught.

    For the Penguins, there are some injury concerns to keep an eye on.

    Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot around his foot or ankle. He didn’t return. Ron Hainsey had to go to the locker room late in the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot up around the head.

    Game 3 goes Monday in Pittsburgh.

    ‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

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    The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

    The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

    The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

    They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

    “I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

    On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

    That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

    With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

    “We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

    Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

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    Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

    The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

    The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

    Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.