May 7, 2009

Capitals Vs Penguins 05/06/2009 EC Semifinal Game 3 Review

Simeon Varlamov keeps eyes on puck May 6, 2009.
Photo by Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo.

Capitals 2 - Penguins 3 OT

The Washington Capitals are still ahead in their Eastern Conference Semifinal playoff series versus the Pittsburgh Penguins by two games to one. However, their overtime loss in Game 3 last night was particularly frustrating.

Alex Ovechkin scored the first goal, getting the Capitals on the board just 1:23 into the game. The scoring opportunity came when Penguins' goalie Marc-Andre Fleury lost his grip on his stick while trying to play a puck sent wide of the net by Caps defenseman Mike Green. The puck bounced off the end wall and went to the slot in front of the net, just in time for Ovechkin to bury it in the net. Under normal circumstances, this would be a good sign of the game's outcome, as first strike usually comes from the eventual game winner. All three games in this series however, have gone the other way. Both teams were playing decent enough hockey during the first, but Washington seemed to be doing a little better.

In the second period, everything changed. It was like the Capitals were repelling the puck, while the Penguins all of a sudden started playing much better and skated much faster. Pittsburgh was able to make one of their scoring chances count, when Ruslan Fedotenko got a goal halfway through the period. It also became clear that the referees were under orders to help Pittsburgh whenever possible, and penalties on the Caps were to be the main assault weapon.

The officials continued to rape the Capitals in the third period. Including overtime, they ended up with seven penalties, compared to only two for Pittsburgh. Washington was lucky to have a really hot goalie protecting their cage in this game. The Pens second goal came from Evgeni Malkin, while on one of their many power plays, but not until 15:01 in the third. About three minutes later, Nicklas Backstrom scored while on the second and last power play chance that Washington had in this game. After Ovechkin tried to bang in a rebound from a shot by Alexander Semin, Backstrom banked his shot off of Fleury's ass with just under two minutes left in regulation. Believe me when I say this Caps fan made some noise at that point.

The good guys had more quality scoring chances the rest of the way, but at 11:23 in overtime, Kris Letang sent a slapper past Varlamov for the winner. Game 3 went to the baddies.

Varly kept his team in the game with many brilliant saves. The score could have been much worse, but you only need one more than your opponent to win the game. Pittsburgh was the team that ended up with that one important goal. They outplayed the Caps, and so they deserved it. Although the team would've liked to have swept the Pens, their fans will be happy to have a chance to see them win the series at home in Game 5. To keep that as a possibility, they are going to have to win the next one in Pittsburgh tomorrow night. The Penguins would have to win the next three, four straight overall, to take the series at their home.

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