By: Aaron Greenberg
Game one of the annual eastern conference second round playoff matchup between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins was a battle. This game was fast, it was fun there were moments of great offense and even better goalie play. The Caps got on the board early off a beautiful Evgeny Kuznetsov breakaway goal set up by captain Alexander Ovechkin just 17 seconds into the game. The first period was full of great chances for both teams, but Kuznetsov's early tally was the only to beat starting goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby. The second period was more of the same as both teams could have easily scored multiple times but it ended up finishing with the Caps still up 1-0. The third period opened with a rocket off the stick of Ovechkin to give the caps a 2-0 lead. The Caps were feeling good with Holtby playing out of his mind and them putting a lot of pressure on the Penguins in the offensive end, but nonetheless the Penguins showed great resolve, scoring three goals in just under six minutes. Hornqvist, Crosby and Guentzel scoring for the penguins, two of which off deflections. Holtby who dazzled for about 43 minutes seem to lapse a bit on two goals and the Caps found themselves in a familiar place, having just blown a 2 goal lead at home. With just over twelve minutes to go in the game the Capitals pushed hard and had a handful of quality scoring chances, one especially for Brett Connolly, who in my opinion was one of the players with the best opportunities to score for Washington in this one. But the Caps came up just short losing game one 3-2.
The Capitals have been a much stronger road team so far in the playoffs and that will need to be if they want to win this series. The Penguins even without Evgeny Malkin and Carl Hagelin, were able to get behind the goal and put pressure on the Caps defense from below the goal line as they have in previous years in the playoffs. If the Caps want to win this series they will really need to buckle down and focus on getting the puck out of their own zone cleanly. I think this series is destined to go to a game seven, but if the Caps are to finally get past the second round of the playoffs they will need to be better in games while they have a lead, they need to stay focused and play the same way, rather than what they've been doing so far this year and allowing the opposition to slowly game momentum, through power plays and quality scoring chances.
Game two should be another one for the books as this series has the potential to be a classic. You can watch Game 2 Sunday at 3 PM on NBC
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