Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heartbreak Again

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost yet another heartbreaking game to the Washington Capitals Wednesday night at the Verizon Center. This time, however, it was the Pens making the dramatic comeback in regulation. Despite their valiant effort, they still could not overcome the star studded Caps shootout lineup and lost by a final score of 4-3. (Reference to the 5-4 loss on March 7th where the Pens gave up a 4-1 lead to lose in overtime) The first period started out rather uneventful with no scoring and a few scattered saves by both goaltenders. This all changed at the start of the second where Mike Knuble managed to shove his way behind Marc-Andre Fleury and poke a loose puck into an empty net. The Pens would answer right back, however, as Max Talbot deflected a Brooks Orpik shot in 72 seconds later. Later in the period, the Pens siezed a powerplay opportunity when Tomas Fleischmann got called for tripping. Bill Guerin took this opportunity, and poked in a quick shot after a great setup from Sidney Crosby to give the Pens a 2-1 lead at intermission. Things were looking up for Pittsburgh, but they would not remain that way. The Penguins got a powerplay 4 minutes into the third, but instead of being productive they gave up a shorthanded breakaway goal to Alexander Semin. The Caps were not done yet, though, as Eric Fehr tipped a Mike Green shot past Fleury less than 2 minutes later. The Penguins were reeling, and had to regain their focus. They did so, and with little over 3 minutes remaining Jordan Staal wristed one past Jose Theodore to send the game into overtime. The overtime period quickly turned into a shootout, as there were a few scattered chances but none that found their way into the net. The Pens jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the shootout with goals from Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby, but the Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin tied it back up to send it into extra rounds. Chris Kunitz shot a puck very hard at Theodore, but he managed to get in front of it and swat it harmlessly to the ground. The same could not be said for Fleury on Mike Knuble, who beat Fleury glove side to win the game. The game was a bit of a struggle for Pittsburgh, who was missing their star center Evgeni Malkin for the 4th time in 5 games with a foot injury and powerplay captain Sergei Gonchar due to illness. There is one important positive that can be taken from this game, however, and it just might outweigh all the negative in the rest of this game. For bringing the game into overtime, the Penguins received one all important point in the standings, which could come down to the difference between the second and fourth seed in the playoffs. The Penguins have one more try to beat the Caps on April 6th, but for now their focus should be geared towards the Philadelphia Flyers, who they face off against Saturday at Mellon Arena. This will be the final regular season between the two cross-state rivals, in a season series that featured several fight filled games, a meaningless replay contraversy, and even a biting incident.

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