This was one of the best games involving the Caps in recent memory … and that was after two periods before the fireworks really started flying.
Rarely have regular-season games between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins met the hype and expectations during the Ovechkin-Crosby Era, but we are 2-for-2 in this series and Game 2 is going to be replayed about 4,000 times on NHL Network in the coming years.
Sidney Crosby scored. Alex Ovechkin scored. Sidney Crosby scored. Alex Ovechkin scored. Alex Ovechkin scored again. Sidney Crosby scored. Toss in some great saves by both goaltenders, some chippy play and a goal from David Steckel and it was quite a night.
“I think it is great for our sport,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “When you build up hype when superstars play against each other, and the superstars play like superstars it is a neat thing.”
Three big things to point out before we get to the notes and quotes portion.
1) Several Caps players, including Chris Clark foremost among them, said this series would not be decided by Crosby and Ovechkin — that they would wash each other out and the rest of the team’s would decide it.
Well, each guy has four goals. So the “Caps Minus 8” have won these games against the “Penguins Minus 87” 2-1 and 1-0.
2) Simeon Varlamov gave up three goals to the guy who is probably unquestionably the second-best player in the world right now, but his play in the first 40 minutes was still a huge storyline in this one.
It could have been 4-2 or 5-2 Penguins after two if it weren’t for No. 40. Of course, Marc-Andre Fleury also made a couple of great saves, particularly on Ovechkin.
“Again he made huge saves and acrobatic saves and saves when we broke down defensively and he bailed us out,” Brooks Laich said. “We have to limit their chances. They’re getting a lot more than we’d like to allow. For a young guy, he just battles and never quits, never gives up.”
3) Yes, the Penguins broke their power-play slump in the first period, but it failed them again in the third period. The Caps erased a penalty with ease midway through the third period and Evgeni Malkin took an offensive-zone penalty just as it expired. Four seconds later Ovechkin had his second goal and this game was never the same.
OK, on to the other stuff from the aftermath of this one:
* Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are really, really good. Here are some people dicussing said statement:
“The best thing about Alex is that he takes the level so high and then there’s another night that he takes it higher,” Laich said.
“It’s exactly what the media’s made it out to be,” Mike Green said. “It’s a battle of the two best players in the league and tonight both of them carried their teams.”
“It is unbeliveable when we play against great players and you win the game like this,” Ovechkin said. “The whole team fought. It’s not about me and him; it’s about the whole team.”
“I’m sure it’s entertaining for people to watch,” Crosby said. “If I were to look at it from a fan’s point of view, obviously that would be the case.”
* David Steckel has more goals than every other player in this series not named Ovechkin and Crosby. In fact, he has as many goals as the other 33 skaters combined.
* Look for Malkin and Green to be filed in the “superstars who were not super” category for tonight’s work. Would this series still be 2-0 Caps if Malkin was performing as he is expected too? Not likely.
* Boudreau was not happy about two incidents in this game. He said Alexander Semin took a stick to the unmentionables from Brooks Orpik during their scrum in the first period. He also made an appeal for the league to look at Chris Kunitz’s cross-check to Varlamov’s throat/face during the melee that led to Crosby’s final goal.
* Finally, the last time there was a hat trick for both teams in a Caps playoff game was in 1993. Ray Ferraro had four goals for the New York Islanders, while Al Iafrate had three in a 6-4 victory for the Caps.