Mats Zuccarello

Capitals offense asleep at the wheel in Rangers 2-1 shootout win

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The Capitals have been having trouble with their offense all season. More often than not the problem they’d run into would be a suddenly hot goalie. Tonight, it was a combination of a lack of shots and the Rangers forecheck that kept Alex Ovechkin and gang under wraps losing in the shootout to New York 2-1.

The Caps would get away just 23 shots on goal and got just one past Rangers starter Martin Biron, a Matt Hendricks goal early in the second period. What’s fascinating is that once the game was in overtime, after the Rangers tied the game up in the third thanks to a somewhat fluky Marian Gaborik tip-in of a Brian Boyle shot, they responded by getting as many shots on goal in overtime as they did in all of the third period with six.

In the shootout, Braden Holtby struggled giving up three goals on four Rangers attempts. Holtby had a stellar regulation making 28 saves, but in the skills competition it was a different story. Wojtek Wolski, Mats Zuccarello, and Artem Anisimov all fooled Holtby badly with dekes to score. For Zuccarello, his shootout goal makes him 4-4 in shootouts this season.

The Caps offense sputtered in part thanks to the Caps power play which continues to fail, tonight going 0-3. Washington’s power play is 18th in the NHL at 17.4% but it’s a point of contention for coach Bruce Boudreau who would like to see more from their potent lineup.

For the Rangers though, it’s yet another gutsy victory in comeback fashion in the third period. Two games in a row now the Rangers have tied the game up in the final period and won in the shootout. The win also marks their 17th road win of the year, tied for the best mark in the league. The Rangers may not be winning games with flashy output but they’re getting standout play from the likes of Marc Staal on defense and steady play from their goaltending be it Henrik Lundqvist or Martin Biron. The Rangers are now winners of three of their last four and are three points behind Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division and two behind Washington in the Eastern Conference.

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.