GAME THREE: Pens 3, Capitals 2 (OT) — Pens Pull Off Dramatic, Improbable Faceoff Win

The Pens dominated Game 3 from beginning to end far more convincingly than the Capitals ever controlled Games 1 or 2; Washington came out flat, appeared to lack effort, managed no sustained offensive pressure outside maybe three or four isolated shifts, and genuinely looked like a less talented, less deep team than the Penguins (though it doesn’t take them 35 shots to score one goal). Don’t expect to see the same Caps team on Friday. My general rambly thoughts:

– Crap games by Staal, Cooke, Kunitz, Dupuis, Gonchar (again), and especially Kris Letang prior to the goal, who appeared unable to shoot the puck or control it in even the most basic fashion (the box score claims Letang notched 6 shots on goal – his game-winner apparently counted as 4). The fact that Letang scored the game winner off a faceoff win was just about the most unlikely capper imaginable, short of Satan plowing through two defensemen and scoring an effortful garbage goal while being bloodied by a cross-check, or even less likely, Chris Kunitz hitting the net.

Varlamov again deserves credit for a solid game, but so many of the Pens’ failed chances were exactly that — failed chances — and not superhuman game-stealing saves. Kunitz failed to one-time the puck into a wide open net off a Crosby pass, and Dupuis and Fedotenko both missed pucks sitting by the goal line with Varlamov in no position to recover, among many other excruciating near-misses. This was definitely one of those “subtract one year from your countdown to a heart attack in your life” games.

– After all the missed chances, too, the Pens’ first goal ended up being fantastically lucky; if Fedotenko’s pathetic pass attempt had been blocked LESS TOTALLY, they never wouldn’t have gotten a shot off. I’ll take the lucky bounce, though, especially after that opening Capitals goal that would have been disallowed in a street hockey game because everyone would agree “the puck would never bounce like that in a real game.”

– That fluky first goal seems like weeks ago, but man, what a spastic play by Fleury. I realize the puck took a freakish bounce off the boards, but that doesn’t cause you to immediately throw your stick into the corner and not be able to recover and barely rush to get back into the net. Three games into this series, it’s tough to argue Fleury is having a “good” series, let alone the “great” series everyone predicted he’d need to have to topple the Capitals.

– How come every time the Capitals get a  3-on-2 in this series, they make one move with the puck and suddenly two dudes are wide open and bearing down the slot untouched, whereas when the Pens get a 3-on-2, they either immediately turn the puck over, spread too far out and allow all three backcheckers to get back, or keep gliding until they’re all two millimeters from the net then try a play and a harmless shot/pass is just absorbed into Varlamov’s body?

Malkin returned to being Malkin. 29:38 of ice time, 9 shots on goal, skating through people at will. Absolutely ridiculous.

– I don’t recall hearing any mentions of Alexander Semin’s infamous Crosby quote during any of the coverage in this series; the only possible explanation I can think of is that everyone simply forgot Semin was still on the Capitals and playing in this series.

– It’s hard to blame the officiating in a game where the team missed countless opportunities to put the game away and ended up on 7 man advantages, but the interference call on Dupuis that allowed the Capitals to tie the game (and almost put the series away) was absolute garbage. We rewound it on DVR after the Caps’ tying goal, and everyone in the room’s mouth simultanously flopped to the ground like a shocked Looney Tunes character. Dupuis stopped at the blue line to avoid being offside, Tom Poti couldn’t skate through him in a straight line, threw his arms up in protest, and the ref blew the whistle. Is Dupuis supposed to intentionally hurry up to go offsides there because otherwise his physical body happens to be in Poti’s way and it’s some weird form of interference? If someone is going towards the net, stops so they don’t ram the goalie, then someone runs into them because of their new position, is that interference too? It wasn’t even “New NHL” BS where you’re like “man, he didn’t do much but I guess they call that now,” Dupuis just literally did nothing.

– Ovechkin seemed to have some trouble controlling the puck, strangely; a couple developing plays that looked like they’d result in a token across-the-slot wrister unexpectedly fizzled a few times, sometimes because a defenseman got a stick on the puck and sometimes because Ovechkin just lost it. I wouldn’t expect more of this or any of the Caps’ play in Game 3 to carry over to Game 4 — it’s difficult to imagine another lopsided shooting affair, and if the Pens don’t start burying their chances in Game 4, they’re not gonna escape with another win like last night’s.

– The Pens’ Power Play: We had it as a “Don’t Buy” but after this game, we’re gonna bump it up to a RISKY!!!!!!!

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One Response to “GAME THREE: Pens 3, Capitals 2 (OT) — Pens Pull Off Dramatic, Improbable Faceoff Win”

  1. AD Says:

    Dupuis should be kicked off the team and Konstantinov should play in his place. Yes. I went there.

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