Tomas Vokoun, Alex Ovechkin

Capitals bump Penguins out of East’s top eight


Sure, both the Washington Capitals (Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (almost everyone but Evgeni Malkin) are banged up right now, but rarely do the two teams play a game that means nothing.

The Capitals’ 1-0 win wasn’t exactly full of fireworks, but it had an interesting impact on the short-term standings. If the playoffs began tonight, Washington would be the eighth seed while the Penguins would be getting reacquainted with their golf games at ninth in the East.

Maybe the most promising sign for the Capitals – and conversely, the troubling one for Pittsburgh – is that Tomas Vokoun looked like the game-changer they signed last summer. The Czech netminder stopped all 30 Penguins shots, recording what Stephen Whyno argues is his best performance of a bumpy season.

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Caps fans shouldn’t get too excited about blanking the Penguins, though – and not just because it’s only one game. Blame it on injuries or not but the worn out Penguins have scored just six goals during a six-game (0-6-0) losing streak.

(The injury to go to that insult is the zero in that final category; the Penguins scrapped their way to quite a few “charity points” without Sidney Crosby and Malkin last season.)

The Capitals only fired 20 shots on net, but Alex Ovechkin & Co. took advantage of a tired Penguins team for a promising (though scoreless) third period. Ultimately, all they needed was a beautiful Jason Chimera first period goal to win, but the mere result wasn’t the only thing that was promising.

Both teams have seen each other during more prosperous times but make no mistake about it; the Capitals were likely overjoyed to stick the knife a little deeper in their foes.

Here’s the post-game interview with Mike Knuble:

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


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


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


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.