What was built up to be the Sid vs. Ovechkin series has turned into something both teams would like to avoid. After Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik got suspended three games for his late hit on Pittsburgh’s Olli Maatta in game two, penguins defenseman Kris Letang delivered a late hit on Caps forward Marcus Johansson in game three. On Tuesday, the NHL handed Letang a one game suspension. Seeing the hit, he deserved a suspension of at least two games but since Johansson was not injured seriously and even came back in to play, the NHL saw no reason to make it more than one.
(Check out the hit and judge for yourself from a YouTube clip on SportsNet Canada below.)
Back to the game…the Caps dominated game three in every aspect except where it counted: the score. They outshot Pittsburgh 49-23 after getting 80 shots from the Pens in games one and two. Ovechkin FINALLY got a goal to shake the rust off and Justin Williams decided to finally show up and make things interesting in the final minutes of the game. If they play from here on out like they played in game three, they’re right back in the series.
The Caps finally showed sustained play throughout a game. The only problem was the Penguins took advantage of their scoring chances with their three goals. They didn’t need a lot of shots to go up 3-0 in the second. Washington needs more net presence like when Williams knocked in the second goal. The more bodies in front of Murray, the more you fluster him and get more opportunities to score.
- Alex Ovechkin ended his five-game goalless streak. Have the Pens awakened a sleeping giant?
- Niklas Backstrom (48%) and T.J. Oshie (64%) continue to dominate the faceoff circle.
- Braden Holtby continues to play well. Overall in the 2016 postseason, he’s 5-4 with two shutouts, a .949 save percentage and 1.44 GAA.
- The Caps defense needs to step up and help Holtby out after the Pens have scored eight goals in three games so far.
- The Caps power play is 1 for 10 and 10-10 on the penalty kill in this series.
Weather the Storm
The Pens are in good shape and are on the verge of going up 3-1 going back to Washington. But in order to do that, they’re going to have to limit the shots of the Capitals like they did in games one and two. The other factor is Kris Letang suspended for game four, leaving only four quality defensemen left for the Pens and that spells trouble. The Pens were 2-8-1 without Letang in the lineup this season. The Caps should be able to take full advantage of that and get right back in the series.
- Marc-Andre Fleury is back to full-strength but continues to sit on the bench. Why? 21-year-old rookie Matt Murray. In six career playoff games, he is 5-1 with a 1.79 GAA, .944 save percentage and a shutout. Fleury better be concerned as his starting job might be in jeopardy.
- The Pens are winning without their big stars showing up. Sidney Crosby still has not registered a point in this series. Evgeny Malkin only has a goal and assist.
- The Penguins are 0-10 on the Power Play and 9-10 on the penalty kill in this series.
Your starting goaltenders….Braden Holtby Vs. Matt Murray.
Puck drops at 8 p.m. at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on NBCSN.
C-A-P-S CAPS CAPS CAPS!