Different coach, same result for Bruce Boudreau’s Washington Capitals — five different guys scored in a dominant 5-2 victory. Here’s a few notes/tidbits from this matinee mashing:
Make no mistake, this was a dominant effort for the Caps. Two days after a terrible performance for Washington + less than 24 hours removed from a hard-fought contest for Pittsburgh against Philadelphia = an opportunity for the Caps to take control early and break the Penguins’ will. And that’s what happened.
* First, a quick injury update: Boyd Gordon missed the final 14 minutes and change of this game. Gordon was coy after the game and didn’t want to say what was wrong. Bruce Boudreau said Gordon was sore from blocking a shot and he was just taking a precaution. Had the game been closer, Boudreau said, he would have put Gordon back in the game.
* The Caps have clinched the season series against Pittsburgh for the first time since 2002-03. Washington has never won every game against the Penguins (the Caps did go 6-0-1 in 1984-85)
* The Caps struck twice on the power play. Both PP chances were slightly truncated because the Pittsburgh infraction came while the Penguins had the extra-man, but the Caps still cashed in with a goal from each of the Alexes set up by Nicklas Backstrom.
* The Caps were great on the penalty kill. Pittsburgh had eight chances, including a 5-on-3 for nearly a minute, but the Penguins rarely threatened. The one PP goal came on a rush and a nice pass from Sidney Crosby to Sergei Gonchar, but otherwise the Penguins’ big guns were neutralized. Washington had five shots shorthanded, only five less than Pittsburgh’s shots with extra man.
* As has become customary in this rivalry in the Boudreau Era, the Caps carried the 5-on-5 play for long stretches.
“We thought if we could keep attacking that they would tire,” Boudreau said. “It is natural. Your team is tired in the second half of back-to-back games, especially the rivalry they have with Philadelphia and getting up for that and then the rivalry they have us, it is tough. When you get the 4-2 or 5-2 lead, you could see their shoulders start to sag a little bit.”
* Ovechkin and Crosby had some quality face time with each other today. Typically, it has been Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin trading body blows and words but today they avoided each other for the most part (maybe their truce in Montreal wasn’t staged, after all).
Twice Ovechkin and Crosby came nose-to-nose and traded shoves and verbal jabs. One time late in the second period, Ovechkin knocked Crosby’s helmet off and then shooed him to the Penguins bench with a flick of wrist.
“Yeah, well he started it,” Bruce Boudreau said of Crosby. “Sidney was jawing at everybody. Every time he came off, you could see our bench talking to him and him talking to our bench. I think he got frustrated that he wasn’t getting the freedom he’s had before in previous games in this building.”
Said Crosby: ““I was skating to the bench and he pushed me from behind so I gave him a shot back. That’s hockey and he likes to run around these days. That was it.”
* Boudreau said Alexander Semin could have had seven or eight points in this game. Aside from an offensive zone penalty (Yes, there was another Semin Hat Trick in this game) Semin was great on the second line with Sergei Fedorov, who also had one of his better games in recent weeks.
* Just a minor nit-pick — It has been the Caps want of late to put three forwards on the ice for a 4-on-4 situation when a power play is shortly forthcoming. Both times today though the Penguins used this opportunity to push into the Caps zone and Max Talbot’s goal came about as a result. Jose Theodore probably doesn’t like looking up and seeing No. 8 as the guy in charge of protecting the middle of the ice as a “defenseman” even if it is only for 15-20 seconds.