Alex Ovechkin celebrates hat trick goal May 4, 2009.
Photo by Nick Wass / AP Photo.
Photo by Nick Wass / AP Photo.
Penguins 3 - Capitals 4
Rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov and the Washington Capitals won their fifth straight playoff game last night. It was the second straight win in the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins, a game that included first ever playoff hat tricks by both Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.
As in Game 1 of the series, Sidney Crosby scored the first goal of the game, in the first period. This goal came with one Pen and two Caps in the penalty boxes. Brooks Orpik got two minutes for roughing, or possibly more acurately, spearing Alexander Semin in the nuts. Semin retaliated (sort of) and got two minutes for roughing, while Alex Ovechkin joined him, with a redundent two minutes for Semin's supposed high sticking. This situation helped Crosby make his way closer to the net. Brooks Laich also lost his stick, which had mysteriously exploded just before Crosby's strike. What slashing? Right, Mr. referee? I'd also like to ask the refs why David Steckel didn't get a penalty shot, when he was taken down from behind as he tried to take a shot later on.
A couple minutes into the second period, Ovechkin got his first tally on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Sergei Fedorov entered the offensive zone and spun around before his centering pass to Viktor Kozlov. Kozlov immediately relayed the puck to Ovechkin, who let it rip from his favorite spot, in the face off circle. Just after the mid point of the game, Crosby put the Penguins back ahead by one, when he snuck his way over to the crease for a back door goal. Caps' defender Mike Green didn't notice Sid was behind him until it was too late. About five minutes later, David Steckel evened the score again. Brian Pothier took a shot from the point that bounced all the way back to the AHL call-up Tyler Sloan at the opposite side. Sloan's shot deflected off a player, and Steckel was there to pop in his second goal of the playoffs.
The Capitals finally got the lead in the third period. With Evgeni Malkin in the penalty box for tripping, it took Washington only four seconds to score the power play goal. Nicklas Backstrom won the face off. When the puck went to Green, he quickly passed it to Ovechkin for a beautiful one time slap shot. A couple minutes later, Ovechkin scored the hat trick goal at even strength, with the help of Kozlov and Fedorov. Apparently, Sidney Crosby took strong exception to the fans celebrating with the long standing tradition of tossing hats onto the ice. Don't allow a hat trick, and you won't have to put up with people being happy, Sid. Crosby got his own bogus hat trick a few minutes later, while on a power play. With six attackers in the Caps' end, and an intentional two handed cross check to the throat of Varlamov by some jerk named Chris Kunitz, Crosby batted in the puck from mid air. The ref looking right at Kunitz while he tried to injure the unflappable Simeon Varlamov, must have been suffering from steamed up eyes, caused by all the friendly play right in front of his fat face.
Anyway, the Caps had better figure out a way to keep Crosby from getting so close to the net. His goals weren't pretty, but they count at least as much as anyone else's. And sorry, but consistent officiating isn't going to happen in this league. You've got to close off those passing lanes, and clear the front of your net.
Otherwise, well done Caps. Great to see them in control of most aspects of their game. Outstanding play by Ovechkin and Varlamov, but don't forget about David Steckel. His faceoff dominance, fine defensive play when needed and now goal scoring, are very helpful as well.