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Posted at 10:18 AM ET, 12/24/2010

Capitals' penalty kill shines in shootout loss

By Mark Giannotto

There will be plenty of talk about Washington's continued struggles on the power play in the aftermath of Thursday's 3-2 shootout loss to Pittsburgh, but perhaps overlooked was the perfect performance turned in by the Capitals' sometimes-maligned penalty kill unit.

Washington was 5 for 5 when the Penguins went to the power play, and sent the game to overtime when Mike Knuble scored a short-handed goal with just 5 minutes 29 seconds remaining in regulation.

More importantly, the unit thwarted all three Pittsburgh power-play opportunities in the third period, after Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead when center Sidney Crosby's seemingly harmless one-side shot deflected off of goalie Michal Neuvirth and went right to wing Chris Kunitz, who chipped it into the net.

"It's too bad we didn't capitalize some of those power plays we had in the third," Crosby said. "That would have been big for us to get the next one."

Those kills set up Knuble's heroics. After the veteran wing deflected a pass by Pittsburgh defenseman Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang whiffed trying to hit the loose puck, Washington's Brooks Laich took off on a 2-on-1, feeding Knuble for a backhanded stuff that trickled past Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fleury. Take a look for yourself below:

Lost in the shuffle was the manner in which the Capitals killed off a questionable tripping call on Ovechkin late in the second period. With defenseman Tom Poti out due to a first-period injury, unusual suspects like Jay Beagle and Marcus Johansson were thrust into penalty-killing duty.

"They deserved it," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They did a good job on the PK."

In addition, center Nicklas Backstrom dove to block a shot. Defenseman John Carlson stood up Evgeni Malkin on the blue line at one point and chipped the puck out of the offensive zone.

Though the Penguins came into the contest converting just more than 17 percent of their power-play chances, perhaps the sting of the shootout defeat will lesson with the knowledge that the Capitals' ninth-ranked penalty kill rose to the occasion and forced overtime.

By Mark Giannotto  | December 24, 2010; 10:18 AM ET
Categories:  Penalty kill, Pittsburgh Penguins  
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Next: Winter Classic prep underway at Heinz Field

Comments

"There will be plenty of talk about Washington's continued struggles on the power play in the aftermath of Thursday's 3-2 shootout loss to Pittsburgh..."

They are trying to be too cute. Ovi had a clear shot on the first PP with Pitt 2 men down and passed the puck when he should have taken it. The result was a make up penalty call on the Caps killing thier 2 man advantage.

Just shoot the puck next time Ovi.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | December 24, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

A team that can't convert 4 on 3 chances followed by 5 on 3 chances doesn't deserve a point.

Posted by: cwiseman | December 24, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

kunitz "chipped" the puck in? did i see the same goal you did, mark?

Posted by: cityspirit | December 24, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

cwiseman,

and a team that went 0 for 5 on the pp (while allowing a shortie) whose goalie saved their collective a@@es does?

Posted by: Steve_R | December 24, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Jay beagle had some awesome plays last night. And in case you didn't catch it at home, the arena played Unleash the Fury as the Pens went on their last power play with the Caps down 2-1. Seemed like awful bad timing until Knuble put in the shortie: prescient.

Posted by: Justafan | December 24, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone else realize how awful Backstrom was yesterday. I dont think he won a faceoff til late in the third. We gave up a lot of potential opportunities by not winning the face off on the 5-3s we had

Posted by: Phishhead311 | December 24, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps:

Your very aggressive response indicates that I hit a nerve describing your feelings toward Erskine. Please don't feel threatened here. We accept all.

It's funny the only thing I said after the 5/6 d man comment was:

"He's got a history of concussions which can not be ignored. He can't fight like he used to and his toughness which is appreciated is not scaring any tough guys on other team." You said this statement was MORONIC. Really?

I thought this was common knowledge considering the "concussions and not being able to fight like he used to" comes directly from E himself. What I know about him is what I read about him and he has acknowledged this to be true. So before you call people morons because you feel threatened you might want to do your homework. Don't let your strong emotions, romantic or not, get in the way of what is absolute fact from ANYONE who knows E or hockey.

Please review what people write BEFORE you respond, so your comments have at-least a little coherence and add something to this discussion.
Please respond and tell me what part of concussions and not fighting like he used to was wrong .. PLEASE... PLEASE. I can't wait for your response. It will give me and everyone else on here real insight into what you know because so far you have given little.

@ Everyone else:

Please encourage vermontcap to respond. I have never actually met anyone who knows anything about E or the CAPS deny that this statement is absolute FACT.

Posted by: will111 | December 24, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps:

If you're gone for the day, I'm gonna save my post and repost later. I really want an answer from you. You get on here all the time as a know it all and never back up what you say. I am begging you to actually show us that you know more than me or other people on here.

I guess you might know him personally and have secret correspondence that the rest of us don't have, but:

Does he have a history of concussions?

Does he not fight as much as he used to?

Do other tough guys know this and therefore he is less of a threat?

In the spirit of Christmas answer these questions for the rest of us. Give other CAPS fans on here the gift of your great hockey knowledge. PLEASE!

Posted by: will111 | December 24, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

will111,
Erskine should win the Norris Trophy this year. Erskine is a better fighter than Probert. Erskine is faster than a speeding bullet...
After his great game last night, PIT called and offered Sid the Kid for Erskine str8 up. We of course said no, we can't give up such a talent.
I love Erskine for his heart & toughness. He is a (at best) a 5/6 d-man. He will struggle to break the lineup once the Caps d-men are all healthy. Hannan is a nice upgrade. When 55 gets back I hope the Caps d-lines are:
52-23
74-27
55-3 (or 4)
Sloan in Hershey. Time will tell.

Posted by: chriscaps | December 24, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

BB and the Caps should go out and see the movie "TRUE GRIT", the original with Duke as well as the latest version that just came out... God knows many guys on the team need it.

Posted by: joek443 | December 24, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"They deserved it," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They did a good job on the PK."
--------------------------------------

How about giving those guys who did a good job on the PK some love and rewarding them by giving them some icetime on the PP instead of putting the same ole 5 guys out there time after time even though they have been STINKING up the joint for almost a month??

How about it, BB???

Posted by: joek443 | December 24, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Put Beagle and AGordon out there in the PP instead of Backs and Ovi who has like two PP goals all season, NONE at home...

Obviously BB doesn't believe in meritocracy.

Posted by: joek443 | December 24, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Having Ovechkin at the point during a power play is the most idiotic adjustments by BB. Ovechkin should be stationed on the right or left side of the goalie during all the power plays and force the defense to shift to his side thus opening more opportunities for the others. At least that is what I see in most of his highlight PP goals in the past.

Posted by: JohnWWW | December 24, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

@joek443

I know what you mean on suggesting Beagle and A. Gordon on the PP. I'll admit I've made similar suggestions of putting our 4th liners and grinders on the PP instead of our current cast of characters since maybe they'll go to the net better.

But Boudreau, like the rest of us, figure that our scorers will start scoring again.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 24, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

the next game put in matt/jay/alzer on the PP and watch what they do. they have been our top scorers so far

Posted by: rclow | December 24, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

@will111

Merry Xmas and no need to drag anyone else in by reposting...by all means, feel free to hit me up and we'll talk hockey until the cows come home :) But first, is it safe to assume that you started on me about Erskine because I recognized he played 12 mins in a game we were down a dman, and that he was the only Cap who would've thrown-down w/the Pens last night?? I know you're dying to read my responses to your questions, so here you go:

We agree that you wrote: "he can't fight like he used to and his toughness while appreciated is not scaring any tough guys on other teams."

First, Erskine absolutely CAN fight like he used to; please explain to me how he can't.

Second, of course his toughness is appreciated by the team; he's the only one capable of dispatching the other team's enforcer.

Third, the very nature of tough-guys on other teams is that they're fearless and not scared of anyone not name Boogaard. Erskine commands as much respect as the other noted heavies in the league, no question there.

Based on your subsequent posts, Will, I think you realized that you meant to write that he can't fight as often because of his concussion history and other tough-guys realize this and might view him as less a deterrent to taking liberties. Good points, and I'd agree with you. Erskine should not be our "tough-guy" to battle the Godards, Shelleys, Boultons, Boogaards, Thorntons (sorry Shawn, you're much better than all of them but I've got to make a point) etc... because he's become too valuable. No one else on our backline is going to cause the skilled forwards on opposing teams to look over their shoulders when they go into the corners or the crease; no one else on our backline would jump into a melee w/gloves off to protect a teammate without first looking at jersey numbers. Is it any wonder why the names I listed are all forwards? Good for them to take a dman off for 5minutes, especially if it's the most physical dman on the other team. Who do we have to fill that role, Hendricks and Bradley? The Pens, Flyers, Thrashers, Rangers, and Bruins all have their Hendricks and Bradleys, too, to complement their "tough guys."

Unless you think that there's no place in the NHL for aggression, intimidation, and fighting then you, too, should be outraged at our inability to compete in that dynamic.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 24, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

But Boudreau, like the rest of us, figure that our scorers will start scoring again.
-----------------------------------------

This is the biggest reason why BB has been a terrible playoff coach. Montreal shuts down his number one PP unit and he does not have a plan B.

Has he learned nothing from his playoff failure?? In the playoffs you simply do NOT have the time to wait for your number one PP unit to turn things around in the middle of a series... you MUST have another unit you can count on.

WHY NOT try developing another unit right now instead of waiting till another team shuts down his top unit again in the playoffs???

Posted by: joek443 | December 24, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Wish list for Santa (If you put a white beard on BB, he could play Santa):
Ovie: A bunch of goals.
Poti & B.Gordon: An injury-free season.
Varly: A start.
Erskine: BB's respect.
DJK: See Erskine's list or a trade to a team that plays me.
Semin: последовательност (consistency in Russian)
Johansson: I want to give back A.Gordon's kiss.
Perreault: A job that isn't in Hershey.
Sloan: Being on the Caps roster is a gift, I'm good.
Flash: I already got mine, thanks.
Caps fans: A Stanley Cup.
Crosby: I will take the gift Johansson is giving back.
Me: A defensive minded coach.

Here is wishing everyone a Merry Christmas (well, excluding the Pens fans, may they all get coal in their stockings-of course that would be useful living in Pittsburgh).

Posted by: chriscaps | December 24, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

"I love Erskine for his heart & toughness. He is a (at best) 5/6 d-man. He will struggle to break the lineup once the Caps d-men are all healthy. Hannan is a nice upgrade. When 55 gets back I hope the Caps d-lines are:
52-23
74-27
55-3 (or 4)

Posted by: chriscaps December 24, 2010 12:23pm


It's a good thing you're not the coach, and I'm glad BB MADE CLEAR ice-time will be based on merit. I'm not sure how you get that Hannan is "a nice upgrade." FYI, here's the stats of dmen since ****55 went down:

Alzner (8gp) 1g 1a 2pts +3 16hits 7blockedshots 12shots

Carlson (8gp) 1g 3a 4pts +2 3hits 9blockedshots 9shots

Erskine (8gp) 0g 1a 1pt even 23hits 13blockedshots 10shots

Green (6gp) 1g 0a 1pt -4 24hits 19blockedshots 15shots

Poti (8gp) 0g 1a 1pt -5 1hit 8blockedshots 10shots

Hannan (8gp) 0g 0a 0pts -8 10hits 11blockedshots 4shots

Fahey (2gp) 0g 0a 0pts even 1hit 1blockedshot 2shots

I don't know what team you've been watching, but how you can say that Hannan is an upgrade over any of our d simply makes no sense. Erskine struggle to keep his spot? I'm sure if it was up to you, chriscaps, we'd be watching figure skating in pads.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 24, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

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