Technically speaking, Simeon Varlamov didn't steal last night's game for the Capitals - but it would have been hard for him to have been closer.
Make no mistake about it: the Capitals did not deserve to win last night's game after spending the vast majority of it - overtime included - chasing the Penguins around their own zone, a fact that shows up in the game's lopsided statistics. The Capitals were outshot 42-23, out-hit 44-31, and had two powerplays to the Penguins seven, a statistic that is in and of itself indicative of just how lopsided the flow of play was and how much of the game was spent in the Capitals' end.
To certain extent tonight's result is not only unsurprising, but perhaps even expected. After all, everyone knew this was going to be a tight, hard-fought series and everyone knew there was a very small chance of a sweep for either team. Add that to the desperate situation the Penguins were in and the home ice advantage, and it would have been awfully difficult for the Capitals to come out on top.
Some additional thoughts on last night's game:
- First things first: Mo, when you're in the slot you either need to commit to blocking a shot or get out of the way.
- In the basic box score Milan Jurcina's night wasn't great - a penalty and a minus-one rating - but the big man was the Capitals most steady defender in their own end and finished the night with eight hits and three blocked shots.
- Speaking of Jurcina, he played the two-on-one that became the Penguins first goal perfectly and was victimized by a horribly unlucky bounce. Of course, if Tom Poti hadn't been hanging around the Penguins zone as the result of an ill-timed pinch, that play doesn't happen in the first place.
- Tyler Sloan has looked like a legitimate NHL defenseman this series, including last night's play to keep pace with Evgeni Malkin and harass him just enough to prevent him from making the move he wanted on that breakaway at the end of the first.
- That fourth line just ain't quite the same with Michael Nylander in for Eric Fehr, is it?
- On the night the Capitals were credited with three giveaways. I know Mellon Arena has the reputation as being a place that doesn't assign that many of them, but that's ridiculous.
- Call them soft calls if you want, but the slashing penalties on Mike Green and Simeon Varlamov were unnecessary and, particularly in Green's case, downright stupid.
- At one point during a discussion of Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, Daryl Reaugh referred to the Capitals as being "deep at the position [of goaltender]". I'm not sure that's true yet - but it was sure nice to hear.
- Simeon Varlamov should not handle the puck other than when he's preventing it from going into the net. Ever.
The Capitals had to have headed into Pittsburgh with the goal of taking at least one of the two games and coming home in a position to end the series. That goal is still within reach. There's just a little less of a margin for error now.