Washington Whips Penguins 4-2 in Game Five – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Washington Whips Penguins 4-2 in Game Five

It was a night of surprises.

After missing Game Four with a concussion, captain Sidney Crosby made a triumphal return to the Penguins’ lineup, by all appearances fit as a fiddle and rarin’ to go. On the flip side, slumping Capitals counterpart Alex Ovechkin was unceremoniously dropped to the third line by his coach, Barry Trotz.

The end result caught me off guard, too.


Entering the third period of Game Five clutching a 2-1 lead, it seemed the Penguins had taken the Capitals’ best punch. Marc-Andre Fleury, who’d stopped 17 of 18 shots during the first 40 minutes, appeared to be on his game. Although we weren’t matching the Caps shot for shot, our guys had done a much better job on the transition, while minimizing Washington’s offensive zone time.

I thought we had ‘em.

Then Kate, a favorite waitress at the Pennsbury Pub and Grille where I viewed the game, issued an ominous between-periods warning.

“I don’t like the look of things,” she confided.

How right she was.

The Caps struck for three goals in the first 7:27 of the third period—including two during a whiz-bang 27-second span—to snatch a 4-2 victory from the jaws of certain defeat. In the process, they forced a Game Six in the ‘Burgh on Monday night.

Give the Capitals credit. With their season on the line, they dug deep and came up with a big effort. Braden Holtby was especially clutch. The much-maligned goalie made key third-period saves on Tom Kuhnhackl (2:14), Nick Bonino (3:26) and Conor Sheary (6:07) when the game was still very much up for grabs to earn third-star honors.

By contrast, Fleury appeared all too mortal. Although the third-period strikes by Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and the hated Ovechkin were hardly softies, they were the type of shots “Flower” had routinely turned aside throughout the postseason.

The late onslaught wiped out some nice early work by the Pens. Surviving a fevered physical assault by their hosts—Tom Wilson in particular—the locals snatched the lead on a timely tally by Carl Hagelin at 10:24 of the opening frame. It was “Hags” first goal of the playoffs; his first since January 20.

After the Capitals knotted the score late in the period on a pretty toe-drag by Andre Burakovsky, the Pens retook the lead courtesy of a holding call to Caps defenseman Nate Schmidt and some pure magic by the power-play unit.

Initiating a textbook sequence of precision passing that required all of four seconds to consummate, Evgeni Malkin set up Patric Hornqvist in the slot. Number 72 promptly slipped a short pass to Sidney Crosby beside the net. Sid, in turn, returned the puck to “Geno” in the right circle.

The rubber had barely touched No. 71’s stick when it was on the move again, traversing the crease to the waiting blade of Phil Kessel, who had crept through the back door below the left circle. In one motion, Phil dropped to a knee in his signature style and whipped a bullet of a shot off Holtby’s blocker pad and into the net.

Unfortunately, the Pens were content to sit on the lead. They registered only three shots on goal during a ho-hum second period, setting the stage for the Capitals’ comeback.

Hornqvist Sends a Message

Hornqvist sent a message—loud and clear—to Capitals defensemen Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov.

Lay off Sid.

The feisty winger drove Niskanen hard into the boards with a purpose check at 12:28 of the third period. Moments after Orlov exchanged heated words with Crosby during a scrum behind the Washington net, Hornqvist pinned the Russian defender against the boards in the Pens’ end and got up close and personal.

Judging by his aggressive posture, “Horny” wasn’t discussing the spring weather…or sharing a recipe for his favorite post-game dish.


Crosby tied Mario Lemieux for the Pens’ all-time lead in playoff assists. Each has 96. Malkin is two behind with 94.

Returning from a concussion, Sheary skated 14:03 and registered a hit and a shot on goal. Matt Murray continues to recover from a lower-body injury.

Washington dominated in shot attempts (66-52), shots on goal (32-22) and hits (38-15). The Pens held the edge in faceoffs (34-22), blocked shots (20-17) and special teams play, going 1-for-2 on the power play. The Caps were 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

The Pens recalled “Black Aces” Frank Corrado, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Cameron Gaunce, Sean Maguire, Kevin Porter, Derrick Pouliot, Tom Sestito, Dominik Simon, David Warsofsky and Garrett Wilson from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Baby Pens were eliminated by Providence in their opening-rounding AHL playoff series, 3-games-to-2.

Daniel Sprong also joined the roster. Sprong, who played in 18 games for the Pens in 2015-16, scored 32 goals in 31 regular-season games with Charlottetown (QMJHL). The sharpshooter tallied nine goals in 12 postseason games for the Islanders.

Pens assistant GM Jason Botterill is expected to be named general manager of the Buffalo Sabres.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

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  1. pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
    May 7, 2017 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    I kinda knew we would lose that one!!! After all the Cap’s according to their record where the best team in the reg. season.

    But bottom line to me Pen’s did not play well at all
    – MAF has been MVP so far for us but should have had two of the goals
    -Kessel and Malkin need to show up and not just on the PP
    -the one thing that is really bothering me when some of the players go to make a pass they seem to wait too long or they pass into a crowd, I don’t get it, maybe they don’t see the other winger wide open on the other side of the ice
    – along with that why do we wait until a Caps player is two feet away and try and fire the puck through him , it gets blocked or deflected, instead of shooting quicker or getting it to someone else??? I really hate that and even my wife ( best hockey Mom in the world, of three boys playing) asked me that same question last night.

    We need to be ready to play Mon night, we need to be better at 5 on 5, get more shots by HITTING THE NET!! Pick up a man on the backcheck!!

    WE HAVE TO WIN Monday night, if we don’t well it will be very tough going into the Verizon center to win a game 7 after being up 3-1.

    LET’S GO PEN’S!!!!!

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      May 7, 2017 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      Hi pen’s4ever,
      Agree with you 100%. We need our best effort tommorrow night. No excuses.
      3 Hockey Boys? You are indeed a lucky man. I only had 1 son and he stopped playing at 16 .
      Any of your boys play nets?


      • pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
        May 8, 2017 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        No, two forwards and a d-man, 14, 9, 7
        I was head coach of the 14 year old this past season and assistant coach with the other two

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          May 9, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

          Good for you my friend. 🙂
          I envy you P4E. 3 boys playing hockey. You must live at the rink !! That takes a lot of time as you know.
          Head coach for 14 year old’s …That is a real good level of hockey at that age. Fast. Games are competitive. The kids follow instructions.( most of the time). Checking is allowed.
          How do you get along with Hockey the parents? HAHA
          My experience was that most of the kids were just great to work with…..It was the parents that were the pain in the rear….Not all, just one or two….But it only takes one or two.
          I know it is hard work P4E. Enjoy this time because they grow up fast and all you have are memories.
          Thanks for sharing this P4E.

          For the others reading this, and Coach can attest to this being a former Goalie himself, having kids in minor hockey is expensive enough. If you son or daughter wants to play nets….. be forewarned it is CRAZY EXPENSIVE because Goalie equipment is not cheap and kids grow out of them very quickly !! Just for fun call up a sporting goods store and ask how much a GOOD pair of goalie skates are for a 14 year old ?
          You will not believe it !!!
          I digress,


          • pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
            May 9, 2017 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

            It is local league or house league so no hitting, my boy didn’t like rep or travel hockey, he has more fun playing local league. We had a great year and the parents where awesome they let me yell at their kids all the time!!! Just kidding

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 7, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      Just a couple of quick counter points,

      Malkin has the most points, the most P/G, and the most P/60 this playoff year. Yes he makes some dumb plays at times, but the whole team is doing it, not just him so let’s not blame Malkin. Kessel is 3rd in the league in points and 4th in P/G only .03 P/G behind Crosby and 4th in P/60, so again, this is no time to be lambasting Kessel either.

      MAF has been lights out at home with a 0.954 sv% and a 1.75 GAA. However, on the Road he has been less than adequate, just like he has been all season with a Sv% of 0.902 and a GAA of 3.31.

      The D has been atrocious all year and all though they still are atrocious in the post season they are actually playing better on the road; they cede between 38 – 39 shots at home but tighten down to just around 34 shots on the road.

      Thirty four shots against thinks but if MAF played on the road like he does at home they may have won.

      The good news here is that next game is at home and Fleury, as I have said, is lights out in the friendly confines of Pgh.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        May 7, 2017 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

        Hope your right Coach.
        Any chance of Murray being ready for a game 7?
        Let’s go Pen’s.

        PS. Just watched the Oilers thump the Ducks 7 to 1.
        They separated Mc David and Leon Draisl on two separate lines. Leon scored 3 goals and added 2 assists.He looked unstoppable. Reminded me of a young Mark Messier and a bull in a China shop style of play.He is 6’3″ and goes 225# now. The Ducks could not handle him.

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          May 8, 2017 at 5:45 am | Permalink

          I don’t know if Murray would be ready for game Seven, only Sully and Murray know that. However, I don’t want it to come to that. I liike MAF and would love to see him close out tonight, for the Pens and for him.

          I didn’t get a chance to see much hockey this weekend, Pens or otherwise, between weddings and B-Days. I had to keep checking the NHL app at the reception to see what the Pens were doing. And the Edm – Ana game was too late for me to watch the whole thing, I was tired from all of the running around. As teams go, both Nash and Edm are good solid teams. Edm is still young though and may have a couple of hiccups in them should MAF close this out tonight and whther it is Edm, Ana, or Nash, they would have to come to Pgh should the Pens get that far, where the Pens are their toughest.

          I just want to close out Was right now then, if possible, have Ott and NYR go to a game 7 so the team gets a little rest.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 8, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Great stuff, Pen’s 4ever. (Everyone else, too!)

      I’m seeing the same thing, especially on our breakout attempts (see my newest post). We’re trying to pass or chip the puck right through the forechecker, and it isn’t working. We’re losing a ton of the subsequent puck battles, too.

      I have the utmost respect for Mike Sullivan and the coaching staff. And perhaps I’m oversimplifying the issues. But it seems to me they’ve been slow to the point of reticence to devise solutions.


  2. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    May 7, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Nashville advances to the conference final after beating the Blues 3 to 1.They won their series 4 games to 2.The
    Ducks play the Oilers tonight .They are leading 3 games to 2 in their series.

  3. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    May 7, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rick,
    Everyone wants a piece of the Penguins…. We must be doing something right when not just one, but many teams have hired away former and current Penguins Managers and Coaches in the past few years. You would know better then I Rick, but from my brief memory we had the following defections.
    Buffalo hired our former head Coach. Montreal did the same. Minnesota grabbed a Coach of ours from WBP . New Jersey took a former GM Manager and a WBP Coach. Now Buffalo wants Botterill for its new General Manager and reports from Toronto say Rick Tochett is going to be interviewed for the new Head Coach position at the end of this season. Apparently Buffalo also interviewed Bill Guerin as a possible General Manger as well, but chose Botterill.
    This shows how much other NHL teams want to emulate our previous successes. It really is a form of flattery to know that this many Hockey professionals have gone thru our organization to find other employment in the NHL. We must be doing something right Rick !!
    With regards to last night , I too thought we were going to win the game but then we made several rookie mistakes. We let the Cap’s win !
    On Backstrom’s goal, Hagelin let him get by and he had an open shot on the net. A guy with his caliber of talent should never be allowed to get that close to the net unobstructed. Penalize him first if you have to ! It was a good shot but MAF was stopping those caliber of shots all thru out the play offs routinely. MAF probably should have stopped that one too.
    On Kuznetsov’s goal ,MAF was away from the post and on a perfect shot, a goal was scored. Sidney did the same in the Columbus series. That one should never have happened. Goalie was out of position.
    On Ovi’s goal, his first shot was remarkably blocked,and Ovi gets his own rebound and bang from 25 feet it was in the net. MAF did not stand a chance. It is hard to find fault on that one.
    Others may disagree but I think we let this one get away from us last night.
    On Monday night we MUST be ready….



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