Maatta Finnishes Capitals, Pens Win 13th Straight At Home
The Penguins only held the lead in Wednesday night's game against the Washington Capitals for 1:54. The good thing is that it was the final 1:54 of the game after rookie defenseman Olli Maatta finally put the Penguins on top for a 4-3 win. The Penguins have now won 13 straight at home setting a new franchise record.
The Capitals got on the board first more than halfway through the first period when Brooks Laich scored shorthanded after a turnover on a breakout pass by Kris Letang. Laich paitently peeled around a fallen Letang who expected a pass before beating Marc-Andre Fleury to the blocker side.
Letang made up for it in the second period tying the game at the midway point joining a 4 on 2 rush when his shot deflected of Niklas Backstrom and behind goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Sidney Crosby and Tanner Glass got the assists on the goal.
Five minutes later the Capitals were back on top after a very impressive tic-tac-toe passing from Dimitry Orlov and Marcus Johansson and buried by Jason Chimera. Chimera was alone at the top of the crease as Nick Drazenovic was late to Chimera after Matt Niskanen followed Joel Ward into the high slot.
The Penguins quickly tied it at 2 a piece when Taylor Pyatt got his first goal as a Penguin. After receiving a pass from Jussi Jokinen, Maatta's fake shot dropped Ward out of the play and fellow 19 year old defenseman Connor Carrick left Pyatt expecting Maatta to go below the goal line. Instead a pass to a wide open Pyatt gave the Penguins the equalizer.
Alexander Ovechkin made it 3-2 Capitals before halfway in the third period during a 4 on 4 for his league leading 34th goal on the season. The Capitals were looking to take the two points and give the Penguins their only fourth loss on home ice all season. Unfortunately for the Capitals, protecting third period leads haven't been their strong suit in recent games.
Jokinen tied the game just three minutes later knocking home a pass from Brandon Sutter who impressively broke free from Carrick before feeding a pass through Backstrom with the shot looking like it was assisted by the stick of Orlov before getting through Neuvirth.
Maatta's fake shot showed up again for the late game winning goal and again was his victim Joel Ward. While Ward didn't fall to the ice to block the fake shot, it did disrupt him enough for Maatta to get open space to fire a wrister through traffic and in to the net.
The loss had to sting for the Capitals as they played a very good game against an injury depleted Penguins but in the end, they made a few too many costly mistakes kept the Capitals from taking the game. While Green and Orlov are your typical risky offensive defensemen, I think the Erskine/Carrick pairing hold the Capitals back. the Alzner/Carlson pairing held Crosby's line pretty well in check most of the game. The goaltending carousel can't help matters much either.
The Penguins continue their home stand on Monday against the Panthers to start a stretch of three games in four nights.