Two of the biggest rivals in the NHL: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, came to a close tonight as the two teams faced each other for the final time in the regular season. Both teams came into PPG Paints Arena carrying streaks, Washington a nine-game winning streak and Pittsburgh a three-game losing streak. The Caps win streak would halt at nine as the Pens evened the season series at two games apiece with a high-scoring 8-7 overtime victory. Fifteen total goals were scored tonight which is the most in an NHL game thus far this season and the most in a game between the Caps and Pens since 1993 when the Pens beat the Caps 7-5.
Scoring for Washington started with winger Andre Burakovsky scoring for the second straight game and the second time to start the game; Burakovsky also assisted tonight and now has four points in his past three games. Center Nicklas Backstrom extended his point streak to seven straight games with goal late in the first period. Other goals for the Caps were scored by Justin Williams, Brett Connolly and Lars Eller. Williams’ goal was his 8th and 14th point in 12 games, Connolly’s was his 3rd in five games, and Eller would have two goals in the game tonight; a short-handed goal second and a game-tying goal in the third that would send the game into overtime. Winger T.J. Oshie would score a power play goal and assist twice; Alex Ovechkin and Matt Niskanen also recorded two assists. Goalie Braden Holtby started the game for the Caps but was pulled after giving up five straight goals in the second period, he ended his night with 21 saves. Backup goalie Philip Grubauer came in relief and made 8 saves on 11 shots but did give up three more goals including what would be the game winner 34 seconds into overtime to Conor Sheary.
After a slow start in the first period the Pens were able to snap Washington’s streak of both no goals given up and no even strength goals given up after center Evgeni Malkin scored in the second period at 6:28. This would lead to a six goal second period for the Pens, five of the six goals were scored consecutively in 8 minutes and 9 seconds. Malkin would account for half of those six scored in that period for a hat-trick, he now has nine goals in 12 games. Pens Conor Sheary, Nick Bonino, Bryan Rust also added goals in the high-scoring second period. Sheary’s was his 4th in six games, Bonino’s was his first in 10 games, and Rust’s was his first in 7 games. Sidney Crosby also broke a six-game goalless slump with the first tally of the third period and would assist twice. Defensemen Justin Schultz would assist on three of the Pens goals tonight. Goalie for the Pens Mike Murray made 21 saves and is now 7-2-1 in his last 10 starts.
The Caps will have two days off to rest up and shake off this disappointing loss in hopes to regenerate it on Thursday night in St. Louis against the Blues. Game time will be 8:00 PM/ET.
About the Author
Written by Brendan Keelan
Former High School and College athlete (football, Wesley College).