The first game in the best of seven series between these heated rivals was everything the NHL and the fans had hoped it would be. Alex Ovechkin verse Sidney Crosby. Both players scoring in the 1st period, and Crosby getting absolutely robbed by Simeon Varlamov–the Caps new up-and-coming goaltender at the age of 21.
After Crosby got the scoring started off just 4:09 into the series, the Caps answered back with a goal from a line coming off the bench. Brooks Laich, Matt Bradley, and David Steckel worked to get the puck deep. Bradley threw the puck to the net allowing Steckel to put in the rebound for the tying goal. If the Capitals’ bottom two lines can outplay the Penguins’ bottom two lines (Tyler Kennedy, Maxime Talbot) it will create more opportunities and momentum for the top two lines.
The Top Two Lines
Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom have stepped up to prove Alex Ovechkin isn’t the only force to be reckoned with. Both players had two assits, which included a tic-tac-toe play to enter the zone and leave Tomas Fleischmann wide open in front for a tip-in goal. The goal ended up being the game winner. Semin is now tied with Evgeni Malkin (who was quiet on Saturday) and Ryan Getzlaf for the playoffs points lead with 10. Backstrom has 9 points–all assists– for 2nd place with Crosby and Michael Ryder. Ovechkinis one point behind at 8, but he had the most critical goal in the game.
The Caps had only two powerplays and one was a 5 on 3 opportunity that did not go to waste. Mike Green made a nice cut to the net on the strong-side to open up a passing lane to Semin up high. Semin made a slap-pass to a wide-open Ovechkin backdoor to give the Caps their first lead of the game. The Penguins went 0 for 5 on the powerplay as the Caps defense played physical and aggressive in order to keep the puck away from the net.
The Save of the Year
In case you haven’t seen it yet, here it is…
This kid is really something special. That goal allowed the game to stay tied, and the Caps ended up winning the game thanks to that critical turning point. Hopefully, his good play will be persistent throughout the series and playoffs.
* Simeon Varlamov *
** David Steckel **
*** Sidney Crosby ***