The Pittsburgh Penguins came to town on Friday night at Capital One Arena, and the Washington Capitals greeted them with a big ol’ can of what the French call le whoop-cul, topping the visitors to the tune of a 4-1 victory.
Here's Friday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: Smashing the Penguins like the jaws of a mighty elephant seal is always a great way to kick off a weekend, baby!
Minus: Alex Chiasson continues to look like he’s simply along for the ride, and frequently seems like he’s a step behind and using too much starch in his stick detergent.
And now, this...
Matt Niskanen is up here in the press box.— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) November 11, 2017
I keep looking at him, looking towards the ice, back to him, and gesturing like, "Ehhhhhhhh?"
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Ooooooh, can you smell it? That’s right: it’s RIVALRY NIGHT as the hated Pittsburgh Penguins crawled their way, along with their cheering kin, to DC to take on the Caps. Who would come ready to play, and who would get their lunch snatched on the playground?
2. Friday night’s kerfuffle presented a rare division game for the Capitals. Currently sitting second-to-last in the Metro like a penultimate train seat, Washington would be looking to make up some ground in the standings by stealing a pair from Pittsburgh.
3. Like musical theatre in a repressive country, the play in the first period was heavily penalized. The two teams split SIX whistles between them in the first twenty minutes alone. On the fifth, the Capitals broke through as Johnny B. Goode John Carlson smashed home a righteous American cruise missile to dent the twine and make it 1-0 Washington.
4. Also in the first period, Washington’s Liam O’Brien took exception to a (frankly clean-looking) hit by Pittsburgh’s Ryan Reaves. The two then exchanged fisticuffs in an exhibition of the Sweet Science of pugilism. O’Brien got his ass kicked, and Reaves - he of 54 career points and 754 career PIM, a truly valuable guy - hot dogged it to the penalty box.
5. Things got off to a.....sub-optimal start in the second period. The Penguins scored off a dazzling bit o’ the ol’ razzle-dazzle, with a streaking Phil Kessel finding the inopportune stick blade of an unlucky Dmitry Orlov and the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
6. Halfway through the second frame, Kris Letang had simply had enough of society’s stuffy ideas about decorum and civility, and took TWO, count ‘em TWO minor penalties on the same shift, resulting in a four-minute powerplay for the Capitals. Of course, real pro studs only need 3:59 to get the job done, and that’s just what Washington did. John Carlson made a great heads-up play, throwing a point shot on net that deflected off T.J. Oshie and in to make it 2-1 Caps. John Carlson was putting so much dangerous sauce on the net you’d think he was fishing with poison, folks.
7. The final nail in the Yuengling-stained, mustard-reeking coffin came with five minutes left in the final period. Nicklas Backstrom, pure cherub of righteousness and light and IKEA, threw a brilliant pass from behind the goal line through Chiasson’s legs where it was received by Chand The Man Stephenson. Chandler bing’d it competently over Matt Murray and staked the Caps to a 3-1 lead that would last them nearly until the final whistle. Jakub Vrana added an empty-netter to add insult to Heinz ketchup, and a 4-1 victory was all she wrote.
8. Utterly fantastic tonight was John Carlson, who recorded 28:43 of TOI, including both penalty kill and power play work. Carlson notched two points, and when asked to do a ton, did a ton-and-a-half. That’s exactly the type of heroic performance the Capitals will continue to need from number 74.
9. Once again stellar was, *yawn*, Braden Holtby, who stopped 27-of-28 for a .964 save percentage, and recorded his 200th career NHL win in the process. Holtby is the second-fasted goalie ever to 200 wins, and we do not deserve him or his benevolence.
10. Two points from the devil fish-birds, and free Roy Rogers sammies for everyone! It’s a great Friday night in the nation’s capital!
Washington put in work tonight, family. They’ll get just 48 hours to enjoy it before hosting the Edmonton Oilers back here again on Sunday night.