Nightly recap – Monday, October 18

Tonight was a night in which individual hot streaks continued while team-based winning streaks hit a few walls. Let’s take a look at the five contests.

Pittsburgh 5, Ottawa 2

It’s hard to ignore Brent Johnson’s hot start to at this point, as he improved his record to 4-0 on the season. Of course, the Penguins made life easier for him by giving him a nice cushion, taking a 3-0 first period lead and finishing the second up 5-1. While it’s not shocking to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin light up the scoreboard, the hottest Pen might just be relatively unknown youngster Mark Letestu, whose one goal, one assist game added to his impressive 2010-11 season totals of four goals and seven points in this young season. If Letestu can even end up being a 20-goal scorer for Pittsburgh, they’ll have the kind of supplemental scoring the winger-weak team needs so badly.

Colorado 3, NY Rangers 1

The Rangers are ailing without key forwards Chris Drury, Vaclav Prospal and (wait for it) Marian Gaborik, but they were playing against an Avalanche team that was wrapping up a challenging road trip. Chris Stewart is one of the hottest scorers in the league right now; he leads Colorado with five goals after scoring two on the powerplay tonight, continuing his three-game goal scoring streak. Craig Anderson out-dueled Henrik Lundqvist in this one as both netminders compiled 31 saves but Anderson only allowed one.

Could it be a long season for the Rangers?

NY Islanders 2, Toronto 1 (OT)

Read all about the Leafs’ first loss of the season here.

Tampa Bay 5, Dallas 4

Discussion of the Stars’ discouraging first loss of 10-11 can be found in this post.

Chicago 3, St. Louis 2 (OT)

This one is going to burn the Blues for a while, yet it shows that you cannot ever count the Blackhawks out of a game. Not when they have skilled players on hot streaks such as Marian Hossa (the NHL leader in goals after scoring his sixth and seventh of the year to get Chicago to OT) and Patrick Sharp (whose tap-in goal in OT gives him three consecutive game-winning goals).

Both goalies were pretty strong, with Marty Turco getting the better of Jaroslav Halak. David Perron scored the game’s two goals and had a few other promising opportunities in this one, too. We’ll see if the Blues regret giving up this 2-0 third period lead later on this season, or if it’s a good lesson for a young team.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.