The Pittsburgh Penguins (13-8-5) won their third game in a row and did so over their heated division rival, the Washington Capitals. Washington did not go quietly and scored a goal with the extra attacker in the final The Penguins played their first game without top LW Jake Guentzel but got a goal from Kasperi Kapanen and smothered Washington, as they finished their chances.
The emerging confidence was visible. The Penguins beat the Capitals 3-1 at Capital One Arena on Friday night.
The Penguins PK killed their 27th and 28th straight penalties and prevented Alex Ovechkin from getting comfortable in his LW circle office. Tristan Jarry stopped 28 of 30. Samsonov stopped 29 of 32.
The story wasn’t Jarry or Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin. The story was about the Penguins’ attack and active defensemen.
The Penguins had one of their best first periods, certainly one with a high number of odd-man breaks and chances on the rush. They outshot Washington 11-6 and limited the Capitals to only a pair of high-danger chances. The Penguins squeezed 10 scoring chances and four Grade A opportunities.
Later in the first period, the Penguins finally connected on a chance. Defenseman Mike Matheson led the rush and set up a give-and-go between Danton Heinen and fellow defenseman John Marino. Marino returned a pass to Heinen (8), who redirected the pass into a yawning cage.
The Penguins defensemen, especially Marino and Matheson, were active in the first period. Neither had a shot on goal, but each earned an assist.
The second period was a Penguins period, too. Kasperi Kapanen busted his slump, and Brock McGinn got to celebrate a goal, too.
Midway through the second, McGinn casually centered the puck towards Teddy Blueger and Evgeny Kuznetsov, engaged near the goalmouth. McGinn’s (8) pass deflected off Kuznetsov’s skate behind Samsonov.
About three minutes later, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Kapanen got a little sunshine. Sidney Crosby stepped between a Washington cross-ice pass to set up a three-on-two rush. Then Crosby fed the open Kapanen on the left-wing. Kapanen hesitated briefly, which pulled Samsonov off his angle, and zipped a well-placed wrister to the far post.
It was Kapanen’s second goal in 13 games. Crosby had two assists and extended his point streak to seven games (3-10-13).
Midway through the third period, Washington sent a jolt through the home crowd with a quick strike. Daniel Sprong fanned on an outlet pass which froze Penguins d-man Kris Letang. Letang’s hesitation let Kuznetsov (9) get behind him for a breakaway goal.
After finally cracking the scoreboard, Washington attacked.
Late in the game, with the extra attacker, Lars Eller (3) was left alone in the slot and made the game interesting 3-2 with just under three minutes remaining.
However, Jeff Carter scored the empty netter to end the suspense.
The PIttsburgh Penguins first great chance was born of a connection between Kasperi Kapanen and Evan Rodrigues early in the first period. Kapanen backchecked to steal a pass at the Penguins’ blue line, then immediately sprang Rodrigues on a breakaway, but “E-Rod” hit the post.
Washington defenseman Martin Fehervary left the game in the second period after a hit by Brock McGinn immediately after Fehervary’s point shot. Fehervary entered concussion protocol, according to ESPN, and he did not return.
Officials huddled to discuss a penalty but did not issue one, though not everyone thought the hit was kosher.
Later in the second period, Tom Wilson slid hard into Jarry. Wilson was tripped, but the Penguins avoided prosecution because officials had already called Marcus Pettersson for a trip behind the play. Both Wilson and Jarry were a little shaken up, as Jarry was seen flexing his hand. Wilson later left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return.
Ovechkin had two assists, but his impact was limited, especially on the power play. The Penguins PK allowed him only two shots, neither were consequential.
The game finished the five-game road trip with a 3-1-1 record. The Penguins host the Anaheim Ducks Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.