If this was a three-round boxing match, the Washington Capitals would have lost on the scorecard, losing the first period 10-8, winning the second 10-9 and losing the third 10-8. In other words, it wouldn't have been close. Fortunately for Washington, hockey games aren't scored like boxing matches. Despite being outplayed, outhustled and outshot (41-19) the Caps managed to pull out a 3-2 thriller, courtesy of an overtime shot off the stick of Dennis Wideman. The Caps now move to 3-0 on the season, and extend their streak against Pittsburgh to 11-0-2 in their last 13 games.
Ten more notes on the game:
- The NHL must have been disappointed that its two biggest stars weren't playing in the first two periods, but Alex Ovechkin finally made an appearance in the third, scoring on a beautiful deflection off the stick of Mike Green. What, you say? Ovechkin did play in the first two periods? Oh...
- Say what you want about Ovechkin's relatively quiet start to the season but the penalty he earned, while risky, is a superstar play. Most players would have chipped the puck up instead of trying to dangle around a forechecker, let alone one as good as Jordan Staal. Ovi didn't do what most kids are taught to do and instead went with his superstar instinct. It took Staal by surprise, leading to a (game-winning) penalty.
- Your MVP of the night? Dennis Wideman. Not only did he ice the game-winning OT goal, but with four minutes left in the first he blocked Staal's shot towards a wide-open net. Without that play, the Penguins take a 2-0 lead, and it changes the complexion of the contest.
- Let's not mince words, the first goal on Vokoun was a bad goal. He should have gotten over faster. But blame goes to Alexander Semin and Marcus Johansson as well. To their credit, both hustled to back-check, but Semin curled away from the action, taking himself out of the play. Meanwhile, Johansson failed to recognize that Semin was the first forward back and didn't put himself in a better position to get a stick on the cross-ice pass. Just another example of the many breakdowns that occurred tonight. The Caps cannot afford to be an adventure in their own zone as the season progresses.
- Speaking of Voks, he bounced back from his five-goal fiasco against Tampa - and that ugly first period clunker - by stopping 39 of 41 shots and keeping the Caps in the game. Need. More. Of. That!
- Troy Brouwer, what were you thinking? A neutral zone infraction while the Caps have the puck late in the third?!? It gift-wrapped a free point to the Penguins. Thankfully, it was only one point. He owes Dennis Wideman a steak dinner.
- The Penguins penalty kill was finally dented for the first time in 17 tries on the season. However, their unit wasn't really challenged, as the Caps earned only one penalty the whole game. By the time that occurred, the Penguins had already amassed five power plays. This wasn't the zebras best night. For starters, they missed a hack on Dennis Wideman with two minutes left that led to a turnover and scoring chance for Pittsburgh. At least they picked a good time to not swallow their whistle (if you're a Caps fan, of course).
- Silent game from the Meat & Potatoes line. They had trouble clearing the zone a few times, highlighted by a horrible shift in the second period where Jason Chimera's weak and aimless pass failed to clear the zone, and an exhausted Brooks Laich took a cross-checking penalty. Luckily, it didn't cost the Caps.
- Jay Beagle...brave man. But he never should have fought Arron Asham. Asham is a light heavyweight and Beagle is several classes below him. Hat's off to Beagle, but next time he needs to be smarter.
- So much for moving to Detroit's designated retriever model. Mike Green took 3 hits tonight, some of them fairly hard. Green will not last the season if he's taking 3-4 of those per game.
- Beautiful goal by Mike Knuble tonight, who continues to be a Penguins-killer. The seas parted, he took it to the net and scored a grinder's goal. Nothing ugly about it!
As nice as this win is - and it's always nice to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins - it is apparent that the Caps are not yet the sum of their parts. The worst thing they can do is look at the standings, see they're undefeated and get complacent, because right now this is a team that is not playing hockey at the level it's capable of playing. We should hope that the next time these two teams meet in December that the Caps will be a much more cohesive unit.
But, let's worry about that tomorrow. For one night, Caps fans sit back and bask in yet another riveting victory over a hated rival, especially knowing that the Caps probably didn't deserve this one. No matter, it just makes tonight's victory all the more sweeter!