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Capitals @ Penguins Recap: Caps Hand Pens Fourth-Straight Regulation Loss with 6-3 Victory

Ovechkin scores career goal 774 and Orlov sets a new career high in goals as Washington takes the final game of the season series.

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Washington Capitals. Pittsburgh Penguins. The 62nd time Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby face off in the regular season. The fourth and final time these teams meet this season. Let’s go.

When the Capitals took the ice for warmups at PPG Paints Arena, they looked like this:

Garnet Hathaway is back in the lineup after missing Washington’s last game with a non-COVID illness and is on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Ilya Samsonov gets the nod in net this afternoon for the first half of this weekend’s back-to-back, and Tristan Jarry is playing opposite Sammy in Pittsburgh’s net. Will today finally be the day Alex Ovechkin adds Jarry to his list of goalie victims? Let’s find out.

Here’s Saturday afternoon’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: A Tom Wilson goal in Pittsburgh is always a beautiful thing.

Minus: Ilya Samsonov let in two very rough goals at the end of the first period, which will inspire no confidence in the goaltending situation in Washington.

And now, a pregame superstition like no other:

Twelve more notes on the game:

1. The Penguins got on the board first just 45 seconds into the game with a goal from Bryan Rust. The play started off a weak pass from Alex Ovechkin that no one was looking for, and Rust was eventually able to capitalize on a rebound from Jake Guentzel shot down in front. A quick start to what has the potential to be a very entertaining game, 1-0 Pittsburgh.

2. Just 16 seconds later, some new guy named Marcus Johansson tied things up for the Capitals with his seventh goal of the season. Despite pressure from Pittsburgh blueliner Brian Dumoulin, MoJo was able to corral a bouncing puck in the crease and flip it up and over Tristan Jarry’s glove.

This is his first goal since the Caps reacquired him at this season’s deadline, or, if you’re the ABC broadcast, simply his first goal as a Capital. Either way, tie game at 1-1.

3. Lars Eller was called for hooking on Brian Dumoulin at 2:48 in the first, which is his third minor penalty in his last four games. This is a less-than-deal start for Eller, who seems to be struggling lately. Fortunately, Washington’s penalty kill was able to keep Pittsburgh’s power play off the board here and keep the score tied at 1 goal apiece.

4. Dmitry Orlov gave the Caps a 2-1 lead with a beautiful slap shot from the left circle that beat Jarry glove side. The tally came on a delayed penalty after Crosby caught Dowd in the face with a left hook right off the faceoff.

This was Orlov’s 11th goal of the season, which is a new career high, and his 30th point, which is just three away from the career high of 33 he set in the 2016-17 season. Additionally, Johan Larsson recorded the primary assist on the goal, marking his first point as a Capital.

5. Eller took his second penalty of the game with 6:51 remaining in the first after an offensive-zone interference call on Marcus Pettersson. This was definitely a weaker call than his first offense this afternoon, but it is a second trip to the sin bin nonetheless. Once again, the Capitals’ PK bailed Eller out and even generated a shorthanded chance. Still 2-1 Washington with just under five minutes to go.

6. With 1:26 left before first intermission, the Penguins re-tied the game with a goal from Jeff Carter. Anthony Mantha made a brutal turnover behind the net that Evan Rodrigues snapped up and fired on net, and Carter was in the perfect position to grab the rebound. Carter’s shot squeaked through between Samsonov’s arm and the post, making for a very leaky goal for Samsonov. 2-2 game.

7. Brian Boyle restored Pittsburgh’s lead just one minute later with a sharp angle shot that went top shelf up and over Samsonov’s shoulder. On this goal, Samsonov sealed the gap between the post but dropped too low too early. That’s two really rough goals allowed for Samsonov in 60 seconds, and Pittsburgh takes a 3-2 lead.

8. Chris Letang was called for interference on Tom Wilson at 2:28 of the second period, giving the Capitals their first power play of the game. With 22 seconds left on Letang’s penalty, Jeff Carter was called for high-sticking TJ Oshie. Immediately after that five-on-three faceoff, Brian Dumoulin skied the puck over the glass and got dinged for a delay of game penalty. That’s three Penguins in the box in less than two minutes, for those of you keeping track at home.

After Letang returned to the ice, who else but Alex Ovechkin tied things up with a power play slap shot tally from his office. In his eighth game against Tristan Jarry, Ovi finally added the Pittsburgh netminder to his ever-growing list. Jarry now makes 158 different goaltenders that Ovechkin has scored against in his career.

9. Tom Wilson restored the Capitals’ lead at 11:35 of the third period with a beautiful snap shot that once again beat Jarry glove side. Wilson stepped on the gas in the neutral zone to blast past Chad Ruhwedel and get a two-on-one rush going with Alex Ovechkin. Jarry may have been more worried about Ovechkin rushing down the ice to his left, which was just fine with Wilson.

This was Wilson’s 22nd goal of the season, which ties his career high. Also, in case you missed it, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Jason Zucker were fighting behind the play and they both took a trip to the sin bin.

10. The Penguins got dinged for too many men on the ice with 5:45 remaining, giving the Capitals their second power play opportunity of the day. This would have been a great opportunity for Washington to cement their lead, but alas, they could not convert.

11. Martin Fehervary was called for high-sticking on Jake Guentzel with 2:39 to go, putting Pittsburgh on the power play once again. Tristan Jarry went to the bench 45 seconds into the power play, and it only took Evgeny Kuznetsov 13 seconds to capitalize on the empty net to give Washington a 5-3 lead with just 1:41 to go.

12. Martin Fehervary sealed the deal with an empty net tally of his own with 27 seconds left in the game.

Up next for the Caps: the second half of this weekend’s back-to-back, returning home to Capital One Arena to face the Bruins tomorrow afternoon at 1:30.