Dec. 11, 2018
Game 2: Undefeated No More
Well, you can't win them all.
The Washington Capitals lost 7-6 (yes you read that right) to the Pittsburg Penguins last night in the first game since Evgeny Kuznetsov's Game 6 OT winner to propel the Caps to the next round.
It didn't take long for the Penguins to open the scoring less than 4 minutes into the game, but the Capitals responded with two goals back to back, and before you knew it, five goals had been scored in the first eight minutes of the game. The Capitals held a one goal lead going into the 2nd period, but that quickly vanished thanks to Kris Letang 30 seconds in. John Carlson but the Caps back on top three minutes later, but the Penguins would close the period with two straights goals to take a 5-4 lead.
Now the third period is where the game got even more interesting, as Evgeni Malkin scored just after a power play ended to put the Penguins up by 2. At this point, the Capitals had played 110 minutes of hockey in the past two nights combined, and it showed. The speed was gone, the skating was lethargic, and there was no energy. That all changed, however, when T.J. Oshie (The Kid) was gifted the puck a couple feet from the net and made no mistake burying it top shelf to pull the Caps within one. This seemed to energize the Caps, and they scored 20 seconds later from, guess who, Oshie. The game ended regulation 6-6.
Overtime was not good. The Caps committed a penalty, and lost on the PK with a Kris Letang slapshot. Let's move past that.
The Capitals grabbed a point in a game where they seemingly had no business winning. Taking 3 out of 4 to start the season, against two great teams, and doing it playing two nights back-to-back is impressive.
Furthermore, the Capitals have scored 13 goals in their first two games of the season. What's even better, is that this has come against two very good playoff teams from a year ago. Not only that, but Alex Ovechkin isn't the only one getting in on the scoring. While he has 2 goals, defensemen have been scoring, and so has the depth. That's something you like to see.
To be fair, Holtby started the night before, and stopped all 24 shots for a shutout, but giving up 7 goals on 41 shots is not good. The 3rd defensive pair of Brooks Orpik and Madison Bowey (surprise) was truly awful, and one has to wonder how long until Orpik will be scratched for younger players who can actually skate and have a lot more upside. On the bright side, Orpik did score his first goal in 182 games. That's more than two full seasons without a goal.
The defense was also suspect, not giving Holtby the backup he needed and leaving players open in the slot and in the crease for easy goals that could have been avoided. I'm going to blame this on fatigue, and hopefully the giving up seven goals is not a regular occurrence.
It also makes you think that we have a backup goaltender for a reason, so that Holtby isn't playing back-to-back games, and it showed. Hopefully we see more of Phoenix Copley, because any performance would have been better than the one Braden turned in last night.
The Capitals have an extended break after back-to-back games to start the season, and don't play again until Wednesday at home against the Vegas Golden Knights, a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final.
A Note To The NHL
Fix your scheduling, please. For the love of god. You decide to schedule back-to-back games to start the season, then give the Capitals five days off, before another back-to-back, and a game the two days after that. Instead of spreading out the games and having them play every two to three days, like one normally should, you decide to give two back-to-back's in the first week of the season. Way to go, NHL.