The Washington Capitals probably want to endure “close, but no cigar against the Pittsburgh Penguins” about as much as they want to hear about falling in the second round.
Wednesday brought back painful memories in both regards.
Much like the Nashville Predators in their bid to get at least a measure of revenge for the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, the Capitals couldn’t beat the Penguins in their first chance in 2017-18. Instead, the Penguins narrowly prevailed by a score of 3-2.
With this result, both teams stand at 2-1-1 in this young season.
Powered by power play
When you look at the raw shot totals (36-22 in Pittsburgh’s favor), one might feel inspired to bash the Capitals for a poor effort. The even-strength numbers were actually quite even, however, as you can see via Natural Stat Trick.
The Penguins’ power play ultimately ended up being the big difference-maker. All three of Pittsburgh’s goals came on the man advantage, as they went 3-for-6 while the Capitals frequently lethal unit went 0-for-4.
Sidney Crosby ended the night with an assist while returning forward Patric Hornqvist generated two points.
First taste of Djoos
Christian Djoos‘ first-ever NHL game was as impressive as the puns related to his last name were cringe-inducing. (Maybe as if you were drinking an especially tart juice?)
It seems like the Starburst slogan was the main winner:
Djoos scored both his first NHL goal and first NHL assist. He had the primary helper on Alex Ovechkin‘s eighth goal of 2017-18. Not bad for a seventh-rounder (195th overall) from 2012.
If you’re going to throw blame around, Ovechkin probably isn’t the right target for such derision after this loss.
This time around, Matt Murray got the better of Braden Holtby, even if Holtby made a Hasek-like highlight reel stop in the first period.
None of that was good enough for the Capitals to manage a comeback against the Penguins, so they’ll need to wait until their next game (Nov. 10 in Washington) for their next crack at a team that just seems to have their number.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.
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