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Talking Points: Kapanen Blasts Penguins to 3-2 OT Win Over Capitals

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Pittsburgh Penguins game vs. Washington Capitals NHL Return

The Pittsburgh Penguins game wasn’t the high-scoring firewagon game of past Penguins-Capitals matchups. The Penguins earned a point in regulation to claim fourth place in the East Division and held Washington to just 22 shots in the first 60 minutes. In overtime, Tristan Jarry knocked a puck ahead to Teddy Blueger for a two-on-one with Kasperi Kapanen.

Blueger fed Kapanen who blasted it past Washington goalie Vitek Vanecek for the 3-2 OT win and two points. The Penguins beat Washington in OT on Jan. 19, too. Kapanen was benched in the Penguins win on Sunday.

“They had a chance in our zone and Teddy did a good job of picking it up along the boards,” Kapanen said. “I was yelling that maybe we had a two-on-one. He found me really well. He faked a shot and gave it to me. I tried to go short side and was lucky enough to get the winner.”

Washington coach Peter Laviolette shuffled his lines in the morning skate. Washington rolled with Lars Eller as the top-line center and Nicklas Backstrom was demoted to the third line with T.J. Oshie. By the second period,

Midway through the first period, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins power play answered a little bit of the criticism which the unit and Malkin have invited. Malkin sneaked behind the Capitals PK and was alone near the crease. Defenseman Kris Letang moonwalked the blue line and slipped a pass through defenders. Malkin (4) neatly deflected the pass over Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek.

The Penguins outshot Washington 12-6 in the first period and kept the flat Washington squad under control.

“I’m not sure what it is against the Capitals. We just come to play against them, it might be the rivalry,” Jake Guentzel said. “Points are hard to come by, we’ve got to take each game that comes by us now.”

However, the second period saw a similarly lopsided flip for the Washington hits. After 40 minutes, the Capitals outhit the Penguins 26-5. There are no typos there. Washington lined up the Penguins and pounded them for portions of the game.

Also in the second period, Washington scored a pair of goals after Penguins’ mistakes.

A few minutes into the second period, a seemingly innocuous play at center ice finished when Richard Panik lit the lamp. Defenseman Zdeno Chara spotted Panik at the blue line, and Panik slipped behind Malkin, then blew past defenseman Mike Matheson before tucking the puck around goalie Tristan Jarry.

Later in the second, laissez-faire zone coverage by the Penguins and a turnover by P.O. Joseph created Capitals speed and time in the offensive zone. Former Penguins winger Conor Sheary (5) zipped a one-timer from the right circle before Jarry could get to the post.

However, Washington’s lead lasted just 22 seconds.

Jake Guentzel (6) deflected John Marino’s long wrist shot for a tie game.

Jason Zucker suffered what appeared to be a serious knee or leg injury midway through the third period when he appeared to catch a rut in the ice, or lose an edge near the boards. He twisted awkwardly into the wall and had to be helped from the ice.

“A lot of concern for Jason. He’s a big part of this team, on and off the ice,” defenseman John Marino said. “Guys will have to step up.”

Pittsburgh Penguins Talking Points

Gold Stars: 

Evgeni Malkin. The NBC broadcast played a montage of the half-dozen scoring chances Malkin created by stickhandling around defenders and charging between the dots. Malkin looked good and scored a PPG.

Teddy Blueger was a beast in the faceoff circle. He won nine of 12 chances and scord his 11th point in 17 games when he set up the game-winner in OT.

The Penguins limited Washington to six shots in the first period and just 22 shots overall.

Jake Guentzel led all players with six shots on goal.

Black Eyes:

Mike Matheson was a step behind in the defensive zone. Panik stormed past him on the first Washington goal; that shouldn’t happen. Matheson also created a few scoring chances, though.

Kris Letang and P.O. Joseph didn’t play in the second half of the third period.

UPDATE: Head coach Mike Sullivan said Letang was dealing with an injury.

Little Things to Notice:

Zach Aston-Reese. The Penguins winger is noticeably faster. His newfound foot speed broke up a Sheary breakaway and allowed him to participate in a pair of two-on-ones.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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