The Pens had playoff type games against the Red Wings and Caps this week and unfortunately for them, they came up with the short end of the stick both times.
Malkin missed both games because of his ailing foot which made Pittsburgh slim down center and it was exposed against Detroit.
Pittsburgh lost 3-1 as Zetterberg collected two goals and an assist while Crosby was stifled by a Detroit team desperate to keep their streak of consecutive playoff appearances alive.
This is just my opinion but watching the game it seemed Detroit pushed Pittsburgh and they did not push back. Whether the Pens were tired or were just out-dueled is up for debate.
Sid the Kid’s minus two night was capped by him getting in the grill of Zetterberg before none other than Jimmy Howard got involved.
Nothing came of the dispute but some fuel to add to the fire. Depsite a much improved effort, the Pens lost to the Caps 4-3 in a shootout on Wednesday in another classic between the teams.
Canadian sports networks should take a look at the NBA and how they televise marquee matchups because every game between these teams seems to always live up the hype.
The Caps were up 3-2 with three minutes left before Jordan Staal shot a puck from the right circle just over the blocker of Jose Theodore to send the game into OT.
In the extra frame, it was a track meet. The heads of fans at the Verizon Center were on a swivel as the play went up and down the ice but never resulting in a goal and the game went into a shootout.
Both Crosby and Ovechkin dangled their ways to shootout goals before Mike Knuble scored the eventual winner in the fourth round to give the Caps their third straight victory over the Pens this season. Despite the defeat there are positives to take from the loss.
Besides a two minute stretch in the third where Pittsburgh allowed two goals, they were the better team. They outshot the Caps 42-32 including a 17-9 edge in the first period.
Pittsburgh played a sound defensive game and were diligent and disciplined in their play. Jordan Staal has logged more minutes in Malkin’s absence and he has impressed playing with the entire forward crew of the Pens.
Bylsma has been very liberal with line combinations as Staal and Crosby have played together along with almost every forward ranging from Chris Kunitz to Tyler Kennedy.
The Staal and Guerin combination seems to be working and it will likely become more concrete when Malkin fills the second line centre roll.
Pittsburgh’s power play got a goal tonight but they will need consistency heading into the playoffs. A team with so much talent should not struggle with the man-advantage. I think has to get to just getting pucks on net and the power play will develop.
Pittsburgh has a three-game stretch coming up starting Saturday where they play Philadelphia, Toronto and Tampa Bay. They should try to get all if not two of these games and hopefully Malkin will return in the coming days.
Ottawa seems to have figured things out and my theory of Philadelphia finishing fifth took a serious hit when Carter was announced to be done for the season.
Ottawa looks like the team the four seed will play while the Flyers will limp into the playoffs either in the seven or eight seed depending on whether Boston can pick up their play down the stretch.
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Written by Amit Mann