Coming off of a disastrous third period in Game One Washington needed a bounce back victory to shift momentum in their series against the Penguins before heading to Pittsburgh. And a bounce back victory is exactly what the Capitals delivered, downing the Penguins 4 to 1 in Game Two to knot the series at one game apiece.
Here’s Sunday afternoon's Plus/Minus:
Plus: Three two goal leads have been lost by Washington (in losses) through seven previous playoff contests. But not today in the District.
Minus: Washington allowed Pittsburgh to hang around in the game and needed the benefit of an advantageous goal review session to keep the Penguins down in the third period.
Eleven more notes on the game.
- Pittsburgh was once again without Evgeni Malkin, the star center sidelined for his third consecutive contest this spring. The Capitals had to take advantage of this (unexpected) opportunity on their second attempt.
- 86 seconds into the contest Alex Ovechkin picked up a loose puck above the slot and rifled an All-Star snap shot up and over Matt Murray’s glove. The unassisted goal was the Capitan’s seventh of the second season.
- Evgeny Kuznetsov was whistled for the first infraction of the contest but strong penalty killing combined with offensive opportunities from Chandler Stephenson and Alex Chiasson erased the minor.
- Less than five minutes later Jakub Vrana extended Washington’s lead to two by finishing a nice give and go with Lars Eller. Mike Sullivan challenged the tally, citing goaltender interference, but upon official review referees Chris Rooney and Gord Dwyer confirmed the good goal.
- Braden Holtby would pick up a secondary assist on Vrana’s goal. Holtby was perfect in the first period (10 saves) and was a major reason Washington held the game’s lead through twenty minutes of play.
- And early in the second (2:08) Brett Connolly found himself alone from the blue line in and he confidently stashed his shot beyond Murray’s glove. Connolly’s goal, the third of the contest, was also the third to beat Murray’s glove.
- Late in the second period Kris Letang got Pittsburgh on the scoreboard with a deep shot that eluded Holtby’s vision through traffic. The Penguins carried play through the end of the second period but Washington entered the second intermission ahead 3 to 1.
- Early in the final frame T.J. Oshie’s Interference penalty against Sidney Crosby put the pressuring Penguins on the power play. A second strong sequence of penalty killing kept Pittsburgh harmless once again though.
- Minutes later Patric Hornqvist appeared to stuff the puck past Holtby from the crease but a quick whistle and inconclusive video evidence confirmed the original call on the ice - no goal.
- Washington would be unable to convert on two third period power play chances but those four minutes helped the club alleviate some offensive pressure from Pittsburgh. The Capitals were whistled for two minor penalties in the third period as well, with the Penguins coming up short both times too.
- Nicklas Backstrom tallied an empty net goal with six seconds to play to provide Washington’s margin of victory.
“Let’s Go Caps” chants rained down on the ice for the game’s final minute, sending the team off to Pittsburgh with confidence as they prepare to play in PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday night.