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Washington came into Pittsburgh to face the Penguins for the first time this season and exerted their will on CONSOL Energy Center ice, taking a comfy three to zero victory. The game winning goal was supplied by Eric Fehr in the opening period and the insurance goal was provided by Marcus Johansson in the final frame. Braden Holtby turned aside all 31 Penguins shots for his third shutout win of the season.
Check back right here for our full recap later, but first, Saturday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: Holtby's masterful 31 save performance was exactly what this team needed with their one goal lead. Washington's penalty killing units turned aside both Penguins chances with the man advantage, their success was started from the crease and lead worked its way out.
- Minus: Two points in a shutout win against a division rival on the opposition's ice? Tonight, we acknowledge no Minus - but feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
- Tonight's first shift from Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Tom Wilson was a heavy one - the action beginning between Wilson and Evgeni Malkin even before the puck dropped. The shift ended with a sturdy hit from Ovechkin against Malkin and the Capitals were settled in on opposition ice and well on their way.
- Fehr scored his first with a little more than two minutes to play in the opening period. He found a pass from Jay Beagle that was blocked by Scott Harrington, but not possessed, and that block allowed the Capitals' winger to put the puck past Fleury.
- If anyone thought Ovechkin went down too easily to draw a Hooking penalty against Kris Letang early in the second period a similar lousy balance was on display by Brandon Sutter when Ovechkin was whistled for Interference. I'd give the benefit of the doubt to Washington's Captain after reviewing the video replay of his backchecking effort against the Penguins' two on one.
- Johansson extended Washington's lead to two goals with less than fifteen minutes to play. He deftly navigated with the puck through neutral ice and around several defenders before looking off Troy Brouwer on a two on one and firing a wrist shot past Fleury's stick side.
- Fehr would complete the scoring at the game's 50:16 mark by beating Harrington to a loose puck in the crease and tapping a backhander into a wide open net. The original point shot came from John Carlson and Joel Ward was providing a screen as well.
- The Capitals got into penalty trouble late once again, but luckily had their three goal cushion to soften the potential impact. Both Backstrom and Brouwer were whistled for minor penalties late in the third but the Capitals' shorthanded team killed off the 34 second two man advantage.
- Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh's second leading goal scorer, was limited to less than seven minutes of ice time after blocking a Harrington shot with his left knee. He wasn't seen after the first period and his absence took a bit of the beef out of the Penguins' offense.
- The Capitals' top line drew four minor penalties tonight, but none of the resulting power plays ended in a goal. Washington went 0 for 5 with the man advantage, which is only acceptable tonight because of the game's end result.
- Washington's third line of Brooks Laich, Fehr, and Ward ate up the puck in the offensive zone for a large chunk of the night and were a menace against Pittsburgh's defense. The trio was hounding the puck all night, getting scoring opportunities, and helping relieve pressure for the Capitals' defensemen and their legs. Great stuff.
- Beagle continued his strong play with an assist on Fehr's opening tally, a wide open breakaway (denied by Fleury) early in the second period, and a chance in the slot from an Ovechkin pass that drew a penalty. The primary assist gives Beagle four points through his past four games despite only having thirteen minutes of ice to work with (average) per night.
Washington arrived in Pennsylvania and executed their game to perfection against the Eastern Conference leading Penguins. It was a wonderful bounce back performance after having their season high nine game point streak snapped in New York Tuesday night. Barry Trotz's club responded impressively tonight and they will need to continue this momentum into New York as they square off against the Islanders on Monday.