Sidney Crosby tries to knock the puck out of the air against Capitals goalie Jose Theodore in the first period.
By Shelly Anderson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Marc-Andre Fleury got his new catching glove, the one that provides more room for his broken left ring finger. He heated it to try to make it more pliable, then tried it out on the ice yesterday morning.
Afterward, though, the Penguins' No. 1 goaltender reported that nothing he did with the bright white, new piece of equipment was going to allow him to play last night.
"It's not the glove; it's mostly the finger," Fleury said after he was on the ice for about 25 minutes before the team held its morning skate.
He missed his third game in a row.
Many of Fleury's teammates were on the ice before he came off, so he got peppered with shots.
Coach Dan Bylsma said forwards Max Talbot (undisclosed injury) and Pascal Dupuis (facial injury) remain day to day. Talbot skated for 20 minutes before the morning skate.
'Cup' matters the most
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin edged Washington winger Alex Ovechkin for the NHL scoring title last season -- 113 points to 110 -- and went on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP as he helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. Ovechkin then beat out Malkin to win the Hart Trophy as regular-season MVP.
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told this story about Ovechkin from the final couple of weeks of the regular season:
"Those individual awards were great, but when you watched him in [Las] Vegas [at the NHL awards ceremony] last year, all he talked about was winning the one other trophy [the Stanley Cup]. They're nice, but it's not what runs his show.
"As a matter of fact, I had a talk about that last year. I said, 'Listen, I want to play you a little bit more, see if you can't catch Malkin.' He said, 'I don't care about that. I only care about one trophy.' That was probably with about eight or 10 games to go."
'Sneaky' puck carrier
Penguins center Sidney Crosby entered the game with 32 goals and 31 assists. Thanks to taking more shots and shooting from more spots, he has had more goals than assists most of the season, the opposite of what has been the case most of his career.
"He's always been very sneaky as far as him moving the puck," Capitals defenseman Mike Green said. "It's kind of shocking. I always thought he was more of a passer. But he's proven that he can score a lot of goals."
When the Capitals traded their captain, Chris Clark, to Columbus Dec. 27, it seemed obvious to some that Ovechkin should inherit the "C."
Others brought up a character issue, considering that Ovechkin had been suspended by the NHL for two games for a knee-on-knee hit on Carolina's Tim Gleason -- an idea that chafed Boudreau.
"If we were to win 30 games in a row, they'd find something negative about him," Boudreau said. "But who tries harder? Every night, he's going out and doing what he has to do to win, whether you're winning, 5-1, or losing, 5-1. He's the guy we follow. It was the only choice, and it was the right choice."
Further, Boudreau said, Ovechkin impressed him with his reaction.
"You know the guy is going to be captain when he asks you, 'Yes, I accept the position only if my teammates would accept me as a captain,' " the coach said. "That's leadership right there. So I asked a dozen guys or so and they said, 'Yes, he's our leader. He's our guy.' Not only that, they were emphatic about it, that it could be nobody else. So it was an easy choice."
Third NBC game
The teams' next game in the season series, Feb. 7 at Washington, has been picked up by NBC and will start at noon.
That will be the third Sunday in a row that the Penguins will be on the NBC telecast.