The Pittsburgh Penguins looked like a team which had been threatened by their coaches with a roster shuffle and by their GM with a big shakeup. Wednesday, the Penguins were both. The determined Penguins missed an agonizing number of high danger scoring chances but otherwise outplayed the Washington Capitals. However, it was battered Washington forward T.J. Oshie who netted the game-winner in the final 90 seconds. Washington beat the Penguins 2-1 at Capital One Arena.
The Penguins have lost five straight.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was given a five-minute major and a match penalty for a third period head hit on T.J Oshie. Oshie missed most of the third period but returned for the final minutes. Oshie was also felled by a high stick from Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta in the first period.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was clearly unhappy in his postgame remarks, including his thoughts on the Malkin penalty.
“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Sullivan shot back.
Sidney Crosby (7) ripped a one-timer for the Penguins first goal, midway through the first period. It was a power play tally set up by an aggressive forecheck from winger Dominik Simon and slick pass from defenseman Jack Johnson, both of whom were added to the Penguins top power-play unit, Tuesday.
Throughout the first and second periods, the Penguins missed a few yawning cages and several more high danger scoring chances. Carl Hagelin and Malkin each missed an open net, on the same shift in the second period.
The second period was especially wild. The Penguins out-chanced Washington 15-7 but could not score.
Washington was able to score. Alex Ovechkin (12) returned the power-play goal favor to the Penguins with a blast from the left wing circle. It was the same power-play goal Ovechkin has scored dozens of times throughout his career.
The Penguins dominated shots, hits, and chances throughout most of the game. At 5v5, they took 68 percent of the shot attempts in the first period. They hogged the puck for 61 percent of the attempts in the second period and took an astonishing 83 percent of the attempts in the third period.
The Penguins outshot Washington 42-22. Sidney Crosby had a game-high eight shots.
“I thought our guys played extremely hard. They deserved a better fate tonight,” Sullivan said.
Before the game, Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford wondered aloud on the Penguins radio network if his team “has been together too long”. And he would consider big changes if things did not improve.