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Capitals vs Penguins Game 2: What Worked and What Didn't

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Heading into Game 3, we take a look at what worked and what didn't in Game 2.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It's not a series until the home team loses. That's what they say, anyway. Well, it's a series now. The Penguins dominate this one through two, but it took a familiar face to score a timely goal for the bad guys to ultimately salt this one away. Now the Caps head to the Steel City looking to take back home ice.

Here's our breakdown from Game 1.

Now let's take a look at what worked and what didn't in Game 2.

What Worked

  • Penalty Kill
As much as the Penguins came out and took the reins from the get-go in this one, it could have been a lot worse, a lot earlier, if not from a Capitals penalty kill that continues to do strong work in these playoffs. They killed off five minors through two periods, including three consecutive calls that came after the Penguins had taken a 1-0 lead, and had an opportunity to go up two goals deep in the game.
  • Braden Holtby
As has so often been the case during Caps' playoff losses of late, it's pretty much impossible to pin this one on Holtby, who was on the receiving end of an open shooting gallery for the game's first two periods. Holtby ended up with 33 saves on the night, and both goals against were the result of strong chances from the slot - completely uncontested in the case of Carl Hagelin's goal, and weakly contested (but more on that later) on Eric Fehr's game-winner. Holtby was a big part of the Caps' perfect penalty kill, and was one of the only reasons they had the opportunity to make a late push. So long as Holtby's game remains where it is, the Caps are likely to be in the game on any given night, even when the quality of play in front of him suffers.
  • Strong Third Period
Despite a subpar opening two frames, the Caps skated onto the fresh third period ice still very much in the game... and Marcus Johansson quickly reminded the D.C. faithful of that when he turned on the light on a power play to pull the Caps even. The Caps didn't let their foot off the pedal once they started threading the gas, as they out-shot the Pens 10 to 7 and out-attempted them 19 to 14.

And who knows? If Mike Richards can finish this unfathomably golden opportunity, the final chapter of Game 2 might have been written in a very different manner.


What Didn't

  • Out of the Gates
In both Games 1 and 2, the Penguins were the better team in the few minutes after the opening puck was dropped. In Game 1, things leveled out relatively quickly, and the Capitals probably ended the first period having the better of the play. That wasn't so last night. The Penguins had put 12 shots on Holtby before the Caps got their second on Matt Murray, and ended the period at a deficit of 14 to 5. At this point, if you'd dialed back to the start of the second period in Game 1, the Pens doubled the Caps in shot output, at a disturbing 50 to 25 click.

At five-on-five, the Pens took 21 shot attempts to the Capitals 11, which included 4 high-danger scoring chances to Washington's 1, according to War On Ice. Graphically, it looked like this:


  • Brooks Orpik
First of all, Orpik's hit on Olli Maatta in the first period was late, and whether or not he was purposefully targetting Maata's head, it was undeniably a bad hit. The Department of Player Safety will undoubtedly take a look at that one (even if Orpik probably doesn't fit the Mike Milbury's characterization of "predator" — Orpik's last suspension came in 2006)... and maybe if Orpik takes a breather for a game that wouldn't be the worst thing for his team.

The Penguins have scored five goals in this series, and Orpik has been on the ice for four of them...n one of them more important than Eric Fehr's game-winning tip from the high-slot with a bit under five minutes to go. Fehr out-muscled Orpik to get in position to receive the pass from Evgeni Malkin, then tipped it over Braden Holtby's glove-side shoulder without much contention.

If Orpik's not on the ice to clear dudes who are smaller (and as Caps' fans know about Fehr, don't play to their size) out of danger zones...what exactly is he on the ice for?

  • The Fourth Line
No one expects these guys to necessarily drive play against a team as fast and skilled as the Penguins...but we're talking special levels of ineffectualness here. Tom Wilson, for interest, somehow managed to not be on the ice for a single shot attempt, and 16 shot attempts against.

(from hockeystats.ca)

That's a literal 0% CF, and his mates Jay Beagle and Daniel Winnik didn't fare all that much better. Willy's going to have to do a lot more than that to debunk the narrative that he's not a hockey player.

Mike Sullivan's probably going to be plenty interested in getting that Malkin line out against Beagle (who lost 12 of 18 draws and 7 of 11 in his defensive zone last night) and company, who may be a shut down line in theory, but certainly have not been in practice.