In something the hockey world has begun to expect, the Pittsburgh Penguins put the Washington Capitals on their heels the very first game of the second round series. It was an exciting game to watch, and competitive all the way through.
The Capitals got on the board early
Very early in the game, Evgeny Kuznetsov found himself on a breakaway and he scored. This put the Capitals up by one goal at 0:17.
That was the only goal scored in the period, although there were plenty of chances. Both teams were uninspiring on defense, particularly the Penguins. However, the Capitals weren’t crisp on their passes and failed to convert on the shoddy play by the Penguins.
At 2:56, Tom Wilson headed off the ice, called for interference. Pittsburgh was unable to convert on the minor. Throughout the rest of the period, there were an exciting amount of high danger scoring chances, but neither team was able to put the puck in the net.
The play of Braden Holtby and Matt Murray was absolutely exceptional, further highlighted by the terrible defense both teams were playing. The Capitals still were having troubles with turnovers, which was causing them serious problems.
Pittsburgh executes the comeback
The final 20 minutes was kicked off with an Alexander Ovechkin glove-side snipe to put the Capitals up 2-0 at 0:28. Justin Schultz took a wrist shot from the point, and Patric Hornqvist tipped it into the net at 2:59.
Soon after at 5:20, Sidney Crosby one-timed the puck to score and tie up the game 2-2.
Crosby soon threw it on the net again, and Jake Guentzel tipped the puck under Holtby’s arm and in to score Pittsburgh's third straight goal. Guentzel is now the leading scorer in the 2018 playoffs.
Chandler Stephenson was called for high sticking at 9:40, but this was offset by a Jake Guentzel high stick at 10:12. Neither team was able to score.
Braden Holtby was pulled at about 1:50 but the Capitals were ultimately unable to convert despite some amazing opportunities.
The Washington Capitals are already having nightmares of the past failures against this particular team, and they absolutely do not want to relive them. They need to be more careful with the puck and tighten up their defensive play.
However, the way they played today on the offensive side of things was quite good. They ate Pittsburgh's defense alive, and the only reason it wasn't a blowout was that of the brilliance of Matt Murray.
As for the Penguins, the defense was terrible. They did well to come back and win, but Murray's unreliability is one reason to be worried about their play. They will need to clean up significantly if they want to continue the annual tradition of eliminating the Capitals.
Can the Capitals pull off a similar series like they did against Columbus? Or will the Penguins end Ovechkin's Stanley Cup hopes yet again? Let us know down in the comments.