Momentum Swings; Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins

 RecordGoaltenderGAA / SV%
Washington Capitals2-0-1Vitek Vanecek1.00 / .968
Pittsburgh Penguins1-2-0Casey DeSmith2.12/ .889
Predicted Goaltenders

After dropping their first game of eight against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout, the Washington Capitals are looking to add to their five of six possible points through three games as they take on Pittsburgh once again to close out their four-game road trip.

The Washington Capitals fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 4-3 in the shootout on Sunday. It was the first time the Caps would face their former head coach in Todd Reirden, now assistant coach in Pittsburgh. It is Reirden’s second tour with the Penguins, however. It had been 316 days since the Caps and Pens played, since they did not meet in the post-season after both teams made early exits for a second straight year. Caps young netminder Ilya Samsonov got the start for the Capitals. Casey DeSmith started his first game of the season after ‘starter’ Tristan Jarry allowed nine goals in the last two games vs the Flyers. Conor Sheary did not dress, and Daniel Sprong took his place for the Caps. Cody Ceci and Mike Matheson were the healthy scratches for Pittsburgh, and Juuso Riikola and Chad Ruhwedel drew in.

Just 19 seconds into the first period, new acquisition Evan Rodrigues put his Penguins on the board with his first goal of the season. At the 4:57 mark of the first, Pittsburgh earned their first power play of the game as Nick Jensen went off for tripping, but just as they had done five times versus the Sabres on Friday, the Caps killed off the penalty. With just under eight minutes remaining, Nic Dowd narrowly tallied his first of the season to tie the game 1-1.

Initially, it was difficult to tell if the puck entirely crossed the goal line, but upon review, it was determined that Dowd’s tying goal was a good goal. Following Nic’s goal, momentum tilted dramatically in favor of the Capitals. After failing to score in his first two games, just beyond the 14-minute mark, a pass from Tom Wilson to Evgeny Kuznetsov to Caps’ captain Alex Ovechkin allowed him to finally score to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.

The Capitals received their first power play prior to the expiration of the first period, but did not score (Dumoulin, holding). Despite leading to start the second period, Washington quickly allowed a second goal from Pittsburgh just over two minutes in, thus tying the game. A faulty misplay by Samsonov led to a goal from Colton Sceviour; a goal that would require an extensive review to determine if the puck actually went in, or if it rebounded off the cross bar and out.

Pittsburgh received another power play at the 5:20 mark, but again failed to convert (Dillon, cross-checking). The Capitals have taken far too many minor penalties to start the season, but at least the penalty kill is good, and they aren’t allowing goals immediately upon killing the penalty. Three minutes later, Jake Guentzel went off for interference, giving the Caps a power play, but just 15 seconds into the man-advantage, TJ Oshie was called for interference as well. Play resumed as 4-on-4 for 1:45, but then Sidney Crosby was called for hooking 30 seconds later, so the Capitals played 4-on-3 for 1:15. At the 10:09 mark, with the man-advantage, Nicklas Backstrom scored to reinstate Washington’s lead, 3-2.

Unfortunately, just under three minutes after Backstrom’s goal, Marcus Pettersson tied the game, 3-3. The Penguins received a late power play as Evgeny Kuznetsov went off for tripping with 20.7 seconds left, so the Caps would start the third with the score tied, and on the penalty kill.

The third period was score-less, but not without its opportunities. Carl Hagelin nearly scored shorthanded on the remainder of a late 2nd period Caps penalty. Both teams received power plays in the final frame, but neither converted (Wilson, slashing)(BENCH, too-many-men). Ovechkin nearly scored a second goal, but his shot rang off both posts and stayed out.

With neither team scoring, the game would need extra hockey to determine a winner. Overtime was not enough, though it seemed as though the 3-on-3 five-minute period lasted forever. It took four rounds of the shootout for Jake Guentzel to solve Samsonov, who had played shakily since he allowed the Pens’ second goal. Despite the loss, the Capitals had earned points in each of their first three games, thus having yet to lose in regulation, and have tallied 11 goals.

Ilya Samsonov started his 2nd game of the season against Pittsburgh, and gave up 3 goals on 24 shots to ultimately drop the game in the shootout. Samsonov did however stop shootout attempts from Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin. Casey DeSmith was in net for Pittsburgh on Sunday, and is expected to start once again for the Pens on Tuesday. DeSmith allowed 3 goals on 20 shots for a .870 save percentage.

NBCSN, ATTSN-PT, and NBC Sports Washington will be covering Capitals vs Penguins, from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA, with puck drop coming shortly after 7:00pm.

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