In the Ovechkin-Crosby Era of the Washington-Pittsburgh rivalry, there are two tales to be told. One is B.B (before Boudreau) — the Caps were 1-7-1 in those games.
Then there is A.B. (after Boudreau) — with a 6-3 win tonight the Caps are now 3-1-1 with Boudreau at the helm. The one regulation loss came when Nicklas Backstrom put the puck in his own net. Think there has been a shift in the momentum of this series? There has certainly been a change in the coaching advantage.
Here’s the deal: The Caps’ aggressive style gives the Penguins all kinds of fits. Each of these five games, the Caps have either clearly outplayed the Penguins or felt they did. Tonight they fired shot after shot at Marc-Andre Fleury, while the Penguins lay-back-and-wait-for-a-mistake philosophy didn’t work. OK, it did in the first period when they had three odd-man rushes, but those resulted in zero goals, and the Caps dominated the final two periods.
Here are some notes before I try to brave a pretty nasty snowstorm and drive to the suburbs:
* Alex Ovechkin > Sidney Crosby + Evgeni Malkin tonight
Crosby was pretty good at times, but Malkin missed a couple of easy chances — I know the box score says he had 12 shots, but only a few were great chances. The Penguins probably feel that if they had just put home the four or five one-timers that Crosby set up this could have been different.
Ovechkin was dominant in the third period. The game was 2-2, he accounted for three goals and then the game was 5-3. That was a very MVP-esque performance.
* Tomas Fleischmann now has 15 goals this season, and three in his past three games. That was exactly the type of effort the Caps need when he dove to poke in an Ovechkin rebound to make it 4-3.
* Jose Theodore wasn’t great, but he was better in the final 15 minutes — especially after he mishandled an easy shot and swatted the puck over the glass. His saves on that power play might have been the turning point.
* Miroslav Satan has 350 career goals — 30 against the Caps.
* Viktor Kozlov has 16 goals against the Penguins — more than any other team. That might be enough to keep him around next year alone, eh?
* The Caps have an opitonal practice tomorrow morning in Arlington. The tone will be drastically different than it would have been today had their been no game.