Jake Guentzel‘s shootout goal was the difference for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon as they beat the Washington Capitals, 4-3, to earn their first victory of the season.
To say it is a much needed win for the Penguins is an understatement. They entered the game having lost back-to-back games in Philadelphia, surrendering 11 goals in the process and not looking particularly good. No team ever wants to start a season 0-3, but that is especially true this season, with a shortened schedule, and while only playing games within your division.
Nic Dowd, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals. Ovechkin’s goal was the 707th of his career and moves him within one of Mike Gartner for seventh on the all-time list.
The two teams play again on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Even with the win the Penguins still look like a team that has a lot of things to work through early in the season, specifically on the power play where they failed to capitalize on all five of their opportunities. They are also are getting very little from the top of their lineup, which is something that can not continue. Nor do you really expect it to continue.
The good news for them on Sunday was that after a sloppy first period (which came after two sloppy games in Philadelphia) they were able to really lock things down defensively the rest of the way. They limited the Capitals to just 11 shots on goal over the final 45 minutes of regulation and overtime, with only seven of those shots coming during even-strength play.
They also gave up just eight scoring chances (via Natural Stat Trick) after giving up 10 in the first period alone.
For the Capitals, not getting the extra point in the shootout is probably frustrating but they still managed to steal a point in the standings. That gives them five out of a possible six points to open the season while playing three games in four days, all on the road.