Even though the Penguins came in with no Sidney Crosby and just learned yesterday center Evgeni Malkin is done for the season, it was typical Caps/Pens with a lot of scrapping and pounding but the Caps got on the board first when Brooks Laich went to the net and put his 11th right underneath a sliding Marc-Andre Fleury. Mathieu Perreault did a great job keeping the play alive and the Caps had all the momentum going there way until the very end of the first when a Brooks Orpik shot when off Mike Green’s head and he went to the ice bleeding pretty good. Green was helped off but did not return and is day to day. After the game Mike Green met with reporters and you could see the stitches on the side of his head, but it looks like he will be fine.
In the second the Caps grabbed the momentum again when Marcus Johansson took it shorthanded from 3/4 ice all the way backhanding high and by Fleury for his 7th of the year. David Steckel was right in front of him and might of had a little bit of a screen. It was Johansson’s best goal of the year and Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said he’s getting better game by game afterwards.
In the third it got a little scrappy. The Penguins called up Tim Wallace today from the AHL, he had only played in 17 previous NHL games, and he took a face off with David Steckel which resulted in both dropping their gloves. The Penguins are still looking for retribution from the accidental hit Steckel had on Crosby in the Winter Classic which everyone believes gave him the concussion. The fight ended pretty much in a draw, but Boudreau afterwards said “it’s crap” what the Penguins were doing trying to get retribution. Later in the third, the Penguins Matt Cooke stuck his leg out and purposely tripped Alex Ovechkin. This resulted in a two minute penalty for Cooke, possible suspension, and both teams weren’t happy about it. Bruce Boudreau said “it’s Matt Cooke, need I say more” and talked about how he keeps getting away with this. Matt Bradley wanted to fight Cooke when he got out of the box, but Cooke decided he would go straight to the bench. Mike Knuble got an empty netter a few minutes later to clinch the 3-0 Capitals win over the Penguins. Knuble has a seven game goal streak against the Penguins.
Michal Neuvirth got his second shutout of the season stopping 22 and is now 16-6-4 on the season. Boudreau said later that Semyon Varlamov was sick last night and today and that’s why Neuvirth got his first start since January 18th when he hurt his groin. The Caps are 29-15-10, 68 points on the season, 9-0-2 in their last 11 regular season gamesagainst Pittsburgh and 21-0-2 when leading after two periods. This was the second game in a row the Caps played 60 minutes of hockey and goes a long way in turning the corner and building momentum to the playoffs. The Caps have points in 18 of their last 22 games. Bruce Boudreau is 10-1-3 against the Penguins in the regular season since he became head coach. The Caps stay at home to play the San Jose Sharks Tuesday who are battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Check out what Bruce Boudreau, Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, Mike Green & Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma had to say following the game…
1st 18:22 Laich (11), Erskine (7), Perreault (6)
2nd 3:58 SH Johansson (7), Schultz (7)
3rd 19:16 EN Knuble (13), Hendricks (9)
Bruce Boudreau Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Mike Green Postgame Audio
Brooks Laich Postgame Audio
Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma
Sky Kerstein is 106.7 The FAN’s Capitals Beat Reporter and a fill-in co-host. Also you can find video recaps of every Caps game and post-game interviews on www.1067thefandc.com. You can get in touch with Sky on Facebook or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/SkyKerstein.