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Capitals vs Penguins Game 4: What Worked and What Didn't

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Heading into Game 5, we take a look at what worked and what didn't in Game 4.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If the Caps by chance encountered them a genie who offered them a guarantee that they could replicate their on-ice product from Monday night, but the result would remain obscured, would they take it? You could probably bet on it. Too bad. The Caps didn't come remotely close to capturing the dominance they saw in Game 3, and lost in overtime after playing far below their capabilities for most of the  night.

Here is our breakdown of Game 1Game 2, and Game 3.

Now let's take a look at what worked and what didn't in Game 4.

What Worked

  • Getting Started Early
You knew the Caps wanted to scathe Matt Murray early, and they did just that, when Jay Beagle roofed one on him before the game was three minutes old. It was the fastest playoff goal for the franchise since Alex Ovechkin lit the lamp against the New York Rangers just 1:28 into a game back in 2012.

The assisters on the Beagoal? Tom Wilson and Taylor Chorney. Pretty sure that's exactly what the goat entrails spilled over your divining table predicted, right?

We're going to go with one "what worked" tonight (and limit ourselves in "what didn't," though we could go on and on). There are no silver-lining in this situation, and not a lot to take solace in, unless you consider the volume of 3-1 series leads Caps fans have seen dissolve. The Caps needed to be better tonight. They weren't.

What Didn't

  • Defending Evgeni Malkin
The Penguins' "third-line" pivot was a force from the opening whistle tonight, and if not for the tremendous concentration of puck-luck into a few tense moments early in the first as presented below, he would have cracked the scoresheet early on.

Malkin finished regulation at a break-even possession count, but he was tied at this point for the Penguins team lead in individual scoring chances with there, which Patric Hornqvist and Matt Cullen both equaled. The stats don't really do the on-ice product justice in this instance. Rest assured, the Caps didn't have an answer for Evgeni Malkin during this one.

  • Braden Holtby
Braden Holtby didn't play a terrible game, and, as he always does, came up big in more than one occasion. But there are very few universes in which the best goaltender in the world (for that season-year, anyway) shouldn't be able to keep a puck that trickles for a solid fifteen feet out of the net. Sure, traffic, mass chaos, whatever, obfuscate things somewhat, but strong ability to track a puck through traffic is obviously a prerequisite for goaltending.

The second Pens goal of the game, a semi-breakaway for Cullen right off a center-ice draw, is obviously the product of myriad failings by the guys in white on the ice, but being cleanly beat by a puck that never left the ice is not a Thing That Happens Often to the Holtbeast we've been watching all season long.
  • Barry Trotz's Decision To Play Mike Weber
The head coach deserves every ounce of criticism directed his way for this one. You make a decision to play a guy. A guy who, by just about every measurable in hockey, is worse at his job than at least one alternative option. That guy's objectively awful play in overtime leads directly to a loss and a 3-1 series deficit. You, as a coach, have made a poor decision, and the paths by which you arrived at that decision sure seem like they're cobbled with bricks of poor logic and reactionary trigger-pulling.

This one's bitter as hell.