It makes sense that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are squaring off on Super Bowl Sunday, because the two heated rivals are playing a game of inches right now. This is the hockey equivalent of a football game in which two teams grind out three yard rushes over and over again, waiting for the other side to give in.
The Penguins blinked first, as Brooks Laich scored a rebound goal to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.
Despite the fact that Pittsburgh trails going into the first intermission, the pace and style benefits Dan Bylsma’s star-starved Penguins, who must prefer the game’s current North-South attitude. The first period featured precious few second chances and moments of sustained pressure for either side, as both teams are moving the puck out of their zones with dizzying speed. That being said, the Capitals might be able to exploit some opportunities from the point, as they did on the game’s only goal.
While that mode of play lacks for creativity, the pace of the game has been impressive for an unusual afternoon start time.
The period ended tensely, as Mike Green was bloodied when a Brooks Orpik shot hit him in the ear or the side of the head. Green was able to leave the ice under his own power; we’ll let you know if he sustains a serious injury from that errant puck.