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Capitals vs Penguins Recap: Kuznetsloss.

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A largely well-played game translates to exactly zero points against a bitter rival.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

[GameCenter - Ice Tracker - Game Summary - Event Summary - Shot Summary - Faceoff Summary - Play-by-Play - Home TOI - Visitor TOI - Advanced Stats at Extra Skater]

It's Capitals vs Penguins and the weather is beginning to turn, so you already knew that the storyline was the Hart Trophy frontrunner versus the Rocket Richard leader ... one team fighting for a lead in the conference, the other fighting to climb up the playoff picture ladder ... the long-anticipated arrival of Washington's top prospect, Evgeny Kuznetsov.

And though Kuznetsov looked good— as did the entire team— one mistake too many earned the Capitals a 3-2 loss at the hands of their most bitter rival.

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Despite all the pomp, flair, and expectation that Caps fans have attached to the name Evgeny Kuznetsov, Adam Oates (rightfully) chose to ease Kuz in on the fourth line along with Tom Wilson and Jay Beagle (hey, a skilled linemate for Wilson finally, right?) Kuznetsov's line looked good all night, and their possession numbers showed it, both aggregate and relative to the team. Kuz saw time all over the lineup, and while it's evident he's adjusting (obviously), his instincts and speed are sexy as hell. This guy is going to be fun to watch the rest of the year.
  • It didn't take long for the Pittsburgh Penguins to open the scoring, as Chris Kunitz took a feed, waltzed in and put one up over Jaroslav Halak's shoulder. If you came here looking for an explanation as to what in the name of the seven blasted hells was going through Mike Green's mind on this play, I'm afraid I have no answer for you.
  • But an answer the Caps did have, a little more than two minutes later when Joel Ward and Jason Chimera hooked up with Eric Fehr on an absolute beauty of a goal. What's up with ol' stonehands and the cross ice feeds lately?
  • And then Sidney Crosby scored, because he's a mouthbreathing fartsmeller a pretty good hockey player, and that's just what he does against Washington.
  • After tying the game at 2 halfway through the second period, Brooks Laich earned himself a three-game goal scoring streak. What do you guys think? Who's influenced this spat of sniperism more: Julianne Hough or Nicklas Backstrom? I know who has the more luscious locks...[Author's Note: Laich's goal was eventually credited to Nicklas Backstrom, but because the discussion regarding Backstrom's hair is the real meat of this bullet, it stands.]
  • Speaking of the second period, it was a pretty dominate showing by the Caps, but in keeping with the theme of the entire season, a single costly mistake was enough to negate twenty minutes of decidedly lopsided play. The Capitals outshot the Penguins 17-8 in the second frame, but where it mattered each team tallied once.
  • The Caps have struggled in the dot lately, and tonight was no exception. When a team's strength is it's skill amongst the forwards, and when it possesses a coach who had some of the best faceoff numbers in the history of the NHL, one might assume that some strides would be taken towards improvement in that particular area. But then again, this is a particularly baffling squad...
  • The Caps had a tremendous opportunity late in the game to send it to overtime after the Penguins were caught with six men on the ice, but failed to convert...much less get a quality shot on goal. Uhg.
  • Well, if you're a Caps fan you already knew that Jaroslav Halak thrived under high shot volume. Tonight was not the case, with Halak surrending 3 goals on the first 13 shots he faced. And while Kunitz's first tally can hardly be pinned on Halak, and an 11-second power play strike can rarely be blamed on the goalie, the third and eventual game winning goal was undeniably the result of poor rebound control, and was ultimately the death knoll.
  • Take a moment to hope for the best for Rich Peverley, who collapsed on the Dallas Stars' bench tonight. He returned to their lineup three days ago amidst a recurring cardiac issue. Scary as hell, and a perspective recalibrater to be sure. Latest news is Peverley is up and communicative.
When it's March, and when you're fighting for a playoff spot, moral victories don't exist. That means this game was a failure, and tomorrow night's tilt in Pittsburgh's barn doesn't promise to be an easier.

Game highlights: