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Capitals vs. Penguins Recap: Comeback Comes Up Short, Pens Win

In the first tilt of the campaign between the Pens and the Caps, the Pens escaped the building with a win.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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The Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins faced off for the 12th straight year on Super Bowl Sunday. The NHL has its answer to the biggest sporting event of the season and its two guys with messed up teeth who play hockey really well. Well, some of Sunday’s game was not played very well, but you get the idea.

Here are more notes on the game:

Plus: Dmitry Orlov, 28, still seems like a young player to me, but the Capitals defenseman has become a steady presence on the blueline now, and today he played in his 500th career game. It was also the 399th straight game the Siberian has played, which is the fifth-longest active streak in the NHL, and is on pace to set career highs in assists in assists and points. Unlike most of his teammates, he was actually decent against the Penguins, though he was called for a (phantom) slashing call in the third period.

Minus: The Capitals didn’t deserve to win this game. Hockey is often a random sport. But the Caps missed a bunch of wide open nets, and we've learned that putting the puck *in* the net leads to more points and increases your chances of winning the sporting match.

  1. The Capitals power play is a mess. Speaking to reporters before the game outside the Washington locker room, head coach Todd Reirden indicated the team would mix up their struggling power play, but whatever they did had little impact as they managed just one shot on the power play in six minutes on the man-advantage. Ew.
  2. Nick Jensen should not be playing defense for the Capitals... but he got his fourth assist of the season, which is something to celebrate no matter how bad he is.
  3. Radko Gudas was awful today and raised serious questions about his ability to handle top-six defensive responsibilities.
  4. Lars Eller had two nice goals, opening the scoring on a wrist shot from the far circle and then giving the Capitals late life with a toe drag and a nice snipe past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray.
  5. Ilya Samsonov got the start over Braden Holtby, which seemed like a good idea but ultimately did not work out for Reirden. Samsonov has been excellent this season, but he let in some uncharacteristically soft goals -- perhaps the pressure of playing the team’s biggest rival on NBC got to him. Maybe Braden Holtby wouldn’t have been much better. The team still has to figure out the position.

The Capitals chose a bad time to play a bad game, in one of their biggest games of the season against a division rival close behind in the standings. It ended up being a one goal contest, but that didn’t tell the story of a game the Caps the seemed willing to give away.

Washington will return to Capital One Arena to face the Kings on Tuesday.