Kris Letang

‘It’s not in his game’: Capitals coach Trotz defends Ovechkin after controversial slash


Alex Ovechkin has been front and center a few times in the past few days.

He’s been accused of diving, continues to score goals, including another pretty one Tuesday, and, in the same game, he sent Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang sliding hard into the end boards after a slash to the back of the leg early in the third period.

There was no call on the play.

What ensued next was the Penguins trying to get revenge on Ovechkin, though the star wouldn’t bite. He smiled, though.

The Capitals took advantage of the Penguins’ lack of discipline in the final 20 minutes, scoring on a late power-play to win the game 3-1.

Washington’s head coach Barry Trotz defended Ovechkin after the game.

Their stories remain the same: Ovechkin’s intent was to hit the puck, which Letang was working to maintain control of with the Capitals captain on the forecheck.

“If you look at it, Ovi’s just trying to whack at the puck there,” said Trotz, as per CSN Washington.

“I looked at it on TV. From behind you can’t even see the puck, but from the front view you can see the puck is right by [Letang’s] skate and he actually moves his skate in front of the puck and Ovi sort of tries to throw it at the net.

“Letang slid a little bit, he tried to get his balance and went into the boards. I think you’re making a lot out of nothing. The ice is really slippery in the beginning of a period. Ovi doesn’t do that. It’s not in his game.”

Penguins let emotions get the better of them in loss to Capitals


In a tied game, third period, on home ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins seemed more interested in retribution at times, after Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin caught Kris Letang with a wicked slash that wasn’t called.

What eventually happened, as the Penguins lost their cool and took a parade to the penalty box?

The Capitals took the lead, as Joel Ward scored on a beautiful passing play with less than five minutes remaining in the third period. They’d go on to defeat the rival Penguins by a final score of 3-1, and now possess the league’s second-best power play at 23.6 per cent after Tuesday.

Ovechkin scored his league-leading 37th goal of the season in the first period. Two of Washington’s goals came on the power play, which would certainly illustrate the need for a more disciplined effort from Pittsburgh, especially in such a tight game, even if it did get chippy.

“I’m not blaming the refs or the Capitals. I think it’s on us. You can be mad over a call. You can be disappointed. But you can’t let it get to your game,” said Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi, as per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“I like the fact that we responded and didn’t take a lot of crap from them.

“But at the same time, we have to know the line to toe.”

Video: Ovechkin catches Letang with nasty slash


Emotions started to boil over between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, after Alex Ovechkin caught Kris Letang with a wicked slash to the back of the leg early in the third period of Tuesday’s game.

There was no call on the play. Shortly after that happened, Chris Kunitz went after Ovechkin, who merely smiled and skated away.

Letang went crashing into the end boards, and briefly left the game. He did return for the Penguins.

The Capitals went on to defeat the rival Penguins by a final score of 3-1. The winning goal, off the stick of Joel Ward, came during a two-man advantage for Washington with less than five minutes remaining in the third period.

Ovechkin had his say on the matter after the game, saying the slash was not intentional and he was going for the puck.

NHL on NBC: Blackhawks, Penguins try to build momentum


NBC continues its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center at 12:30 pm ET today. In addition to NBC, you can also watch the game online.

Despite being among the NHL’s gold-standard franchises, the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins don’t meet all that often. When they do, it’s quite the treat, and hockey fans can check out their latest meeting on NBC.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Blackhawks bested the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout. Pittsburgh’s a much healthier team today than they were then, as Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin were unable to play on Jan. 21.

To point out the obvious, this game should be a star-studded affair. Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury join Letang and Malkin as Pittsburgh’s potent stalwarts. Chicago remains loaded with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa.

Hossa’s noteworthy beyond his very-brief status as a Penguin, as he has seven goals in his last four games.

One would think that both teams hope this contest will be a springboard for a strong finish to the regular season.

February has gone really well for Pittsburgh so far. They’ve won four of six games since a rocky month of January ended, including two straight contests. They also should be well-rested since they haven’t played since Thursday and only dealt with two games this week.

The Blackhawks’ efforts have been solid-to-good (at least from a shots perspective), yet their results have been a little frustrating. They’ve split their six games in February and are just 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.

In other words, these two teams have struggled – at least compared to their typically elite work – but there are plenty of reasons to believe that they can kick things up a notch before the games get a lot bigger. We might just see a little bit of that this afternoon.

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins, Red Wings kick off latest Rivalry Night


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Detroit Red Wings at the Consol Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight as part of a back-to-back set of games on NBCSN on Wednesday. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

A lot has changed since the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Final, but in some ways, plenty of key factors remain.

Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still the go-to guys for the Red Wings offense, even with the rise of younger players such as Gustav Nyquist. The Penguins still seemingly go as far as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang can take them, even if the supporting cast (and front office) has changed dramatically.

From a more recent perspective, Pittsburgh hasn’t played since the Vancouver Canucks crushed them 5-0 on Saturday.

That sour end to their Western Canada road trip should provide plenty of inspiration as they host the Red Wings. Getting plenty of rest – at least by season standards – might be the biggest thing, really.

(Then again, the Red Wings have been off since Saturday as well, so each team should be as fresh as possible on Feb. 11.)

While the Penguins have been stumbling a bit, the Red Wings have been hot more or less since 2015 rolled around, most obviously considering their three-game winning streak. They’ve also won nine of 10 games as Petr Mrazek has really softened the blow of losing Jimmy Howard (who’s expected to suit up as a backup tonight).

The Penguins may or may not get Blake Comeau back in the lineup on Wednesday. Whenever Comeau can play, he might feel a little dizzy trying to fit into a lineup that’s changed quite a bit since he last played six weeks ago.

Whatever each team is going through at the time, the Penguins and Red Wings shouldn’t struggle to drum up some interest for the first of Wednesday’s two Rivalry Night games on NBCSN.