After dropping Game 1, the Washington Capitals rebounded with a hard-fought win over the Pittsburgh Penguins to tie the series. The shots were 33-32 with the Penguins having the slight edge, but Braden Holtby was fantastic and turned away all but one shot.
A strong start by Washington
Alexander Ovechkin put the Capitals up 1-0 on a beautiful snipe at 1:26. After this, the home team clearly had the momentum, but unfortunately for them, Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for tripping at 6:57.
The Capitals showed a strong penalty kill, preventing the Penguins from scoring. Six minutes later Pittsburgh had to deal with a penalty kill of their own, being a Sidney Crosby hooking. Late into the power play Jakub Vrana scored to extend the lead 2-0.
Pittsburgh challenged for goaltender interference, but the call on the ice was ruled to be correct, it remained a good goal.
Letang keeps them in the game
In the second period, Brett Connolly scored on a breakaway to put the Capitals up 3-0. It hit the shoulder of Matt Murray and leaked through, a goal he would certainly like back.
Brian Dumoulin was hit by both Tom Wilson and Alexander Ovechkin, the Wilson hit catching him in the head. He was immediately down and later left the game. No penalties were handed out.
Dmitry Orlov and Patric Hornqvist both took roughing minors at 11:14 to cause a 4-on-4. Kris Letang threw the puck on net through a screen on Braden Holtby, which managed to find the net. The Penguins cut the lead down to 3-1.
The Penguins clearly controlled the game at this point, rapidly catching up on the shot clock and dominating possession-wise. The second period ended with the shots tied at 26 apiece.
The third began with both teams having difficulty getting through the neutral zone, but the Capitals finally got through around the one-quarter mark to get the first couple of shots in the period.
The Penguins caught a break when T.J. Oshie was called for interference at 5:38. However, they weren’t very effective, only netting one shot during the opportunity.
Goal or no goal?
Now here's a bit of controversy.
Crosby went on a wrap-around and hit it off the side of the net, and Patric Hornqvist pushed it in. Or did he? The referees took a long look at it, given that the puck went under Holtby’s pad.
The refs called no-goal. There was one view that they showed where it clearly looked liked it crossed, but the white may have been snow (didn’t get enough of a look to tell). The other angle looked like it didn’t. Either way, there must have been enough question (or the referees didn’t have the first angle) to let the call on the ice stand.
Kris Letang headed off for holding at 11:37, but the Penguins penalty kill performed admirably. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh Derick Brassard tripped Kuznetsov and headed off for 2:00. Kuznetsov took a very undisciplined penalty at 16:19 to nullify the power play, and give the Penguins a short opportunity.
The victory secured
The Penguins pulled Matt Murray during the power play. With two seconds left at 18:17, Devante Smith-Pelly and Patric Hornqvist went off for roughing. The Capitals killed the penalty, and Murray had to be pulled again.
Niklas Backstrom scored the empty-netter with seven seconds left to seal the win.
With the series now tied, the Pittsburgh Penguins look to regain control of the lead with two games now at home. The Capitals were exceptional last series against the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road, winning both of the away games they played.
However, Pittsburgh is a different (and better) beast.
Can the Capitals do what they did the last series against the Blue Jackets, or will the Penguins continue the second round dominance? Let us know down in the comments.