Winning at "home"

March 9, 2008

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PREGAME

-Scroll down to read in chronological order.

-You are reading live from the 1995-era press box from the Verizon Center. We say that because there is virtually no wireless Internet access here whatsoever. Sure there's a wiresless connection, but it simply doesn't work.

One of the legions of bloggers here in Washington who frequent the press box tells us that this is actually a common problem here which is disappointing considering the Capitals are owned by a communications mogul in Ted Leonsis.

We've fortunately still have a high-speed cable (is that the proper way of describing it?) we stole from the press box at the Winter Classic with us.

-The Capitals will Cristobal Huet in net.

When the Penguins took to the ice, it was a pretty healthy mix of boos and cheers. Even if all the bandwagon Capitals "fans" are starting to show up, this is still a "home" game for the Penguins in many aspects.

-The Penguins' scratches are Rob Scuderi, Marian Hossa and Dany Sabourin.

-Washington has scratched David Steckel, Tomas Fleischmann, Steve Eminger and Brent Johnson.

We actually rode up in the elevator with the young lady who will sing today's national anthem. She had a bottle of "special" water to help with her voice but she wasn't allowed to bring it up. The security guard manning the elevator puffed his chest out and gave her this whole "these are my rules" type of speech.

-We trust Jeff Jimerson wouldn't have any such issues. He's Jeff Jimerson after all.

-Before the puck dropped, the public address announces that the game is being televised nationally on NBC so the crowd should show how "Caps Fans Rock!" Caps "fans" apparently rock leaving pockets of purple seats all over the place.

seats

FIRST PERIOD

18:03: Alexander Semin snaps a wrister off from in the slot. Fleury makes the save despite a bit of traffic.

17:27: A graphic is shown on the Jumbotron indicating Alexander Ovechkin is first in the league in points while Malkin is second.

16:57: Sergei Gonchar touches the puck and is "greeted" with countless "whup, whup, whup" chants. It's a custom that Capitals fans do that to any former Capitals player who returns with another team.

16:45: Maxime Talbot is sent off for hooking.

15:20: Alexander Ovechkin just crunched Evgeni Malkin along the boards. Kris Letang came over to give Ovechkin a shove. Alexander Semin responded by shoving his stick into Letang's face. Two minutes for Semin.

14:48: Shorthanded, Viktor Kozlov comes up ice and fires a wrister on net. Fleury knocks it away.

10:39: Shaone Morrisonn tried to fire a one-timer on net but sort of whiffed on the shot.

10:31: Mike Green is sent off for hooking.

10:02: Sidney Crosby absolutely got drilled by Morrisonn in the crease and was stunned for a few moments.

9:45: As Crosby and Gonchar exchange passes, the fans here alternated between "booo" and "whup, whup."

8:26: Malkin tried to fire a one-timer from the left faceoff circle. Huet makes a fine save.

7:39: Maybe it's because the red they wear now shows up a lot better, but we have to admit, there's a lot more Caps "fans" in the stands than the two games we went to last season.

5:29: Ovechkin fries a shot that goes just wide of the net.

4:41: Jarkko Ruutu and Matt Cooke, two former teammates in Vancouver, collide at center ice and give each other the business.

3:10: Petr Sykora fires a shot off from the slot. Huet eats it up.

2:32: Letang (6-foot-0, 201 pounds) slams a much larger Donald Brashear (6-foot-2, 235 pounds). to the ice with a nice check.

2:04: Ruutu is sent off for charging.

0:56: Fleury covers a loos puck in the crease. Brooks Orpik and a Capitals player exchange shoves.

0:22: Eric Fehr fires a shot from the right faceoff cirlce. Fleury knocks it down and covers it up. Another skirmish ensues in front of the net.

0:02: Fehr fires a shot from the left side that juuuuust skids through the crease and wide of the net.

0:00: End of period. Capitals 0, Penguins 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-As the intermission starts, Europe's "The Final Countdown" is played:

-The Capitals are out-shooting the Penguins 11-4.

Maybe we have the wrong perspective on things, but this isn't a hockey atmosphere at this game. This is almost like a Pirates game where they have fireworks or something. It just feels artificial to have this building this packed.

SECOND PERIOD

18:34: Ovechkin shuffles a backhander on net. Fleury eats it up.

17:38: Kozlov hits the post with a shot that goes wide.

16:21: Fleury covers a deflected shot. Cooke shoves Gonchar on top of him.

15:25: Fehr zips a shot from the left boards that Fleury kicks out.

15:00: Sykora is nabbed for holding.

13:59: Ovechkin fires a one-timer from the point. Fleury makes the save. Orpik is called for slashing. the Capitals will have a two-man advantage for almost a minute.

13:11: Ovechkin blasts a slapper from the top of the slot. Fleury absorbs it. Maxime Talbot and Brooks Laich mix it up in the crease.

13:00: Sykora's penalty ends.

12:37: Semin brings the puck off the left boards and fires a wrister at the net that beats Fleury. Laich was in the crease and actually tipped it. He gets credit for the goal. Some sort of concoction of what can only be described as noise is blasted. It's almost as if you've gone cosmic bowling or to a rave. It's really lame. Capitals 1-0.

11:18: Jeff Taffe bring the puck up ice and centers it to Malkin. Malkin then moves it to the right where Sykora fires home a shot past Huet's glove. The sound Penguins fans make just with their voices is almost as loud as the artificial sound the Capitals blasted following Semin's goal. You would've though it was a home goal just based on the crowd noise alone. Capitals 1, Penguins 1.

10:47: Instead of having someone guess what's in a box (as they do at Mellon Arena), they have people text in their favorite monument in Washington D.C. here.

9:22: They actually give out Chipotle burritos here at the Verizon Center. We guess it's not all bad here.

7:41: Morrissonn is called for tripping Pascal Dupuis.

6:45: "Whup, whup, whup!"

3:56: Sergei Fedorov gets sent to the box for slashing. He's been something of a flop so far with the Capitals. In five games, he has one assist and is a minus -2.

1:53: Malkin blasts a one-timer from the point. Huet makes the inital save but gives up a rebound. Crosby controls it and fires behind the Capitals goaltender. Again you would've though the home team would've scored here. It's that loud. Penguins 2-1.

1:05: Hal Gill dumps a defender in front of the Penguins net. He's called for cross-checking.

0:28: Was one two-man advantage not enough? Brooks Orpik goes to the box. The Capitals will get 1:23 of a power-play with a two-man advantage.

0:13: That didn't take long. Semin conrols the puck just to the right of the net, dekes a bit and sneaks a shot just under Fleury's arm pit on his stick-side. The cosmic bowling music is played. Capitals 2, Penguins 2.

0:00: End of period. Capitals 2, Penguins 2.

SECOND INTERMISSION

The Capitals are killing the Penguins in shots, 33-13.

-Not surprisingly, the Capitals are controlling the faceoff circle, 29-16.

-We're not sure if we overhead the conversation correctly, but we think someone asked Mike Lange in the press box if there's going to be a sequel to "Sudden Death."

THIRD PERIOD

18:43: Ovechkin comes up ice and rifles a sick wrister on net. Fleury makes a dazzling glove save and a scrum ensues.

17:04: Cooke snaps a shot off from in close. Fleury is there with a nice save.

16:41: Michel Therrien calls a time out to get his team organized. One of Al Pacino's speeches from "Any Given Sunday" is played on the Jumbotron.

15:08: Fehr comes down the right side and fires a slapper on net. Fleury eats it up.

14:16: A puck gets played in to Georges Laraque's feet and he falls down a chuckle can be heard by the crowd.

13:30: They can't even play Cotton-Eyed Joe normally down here. Instead they have this techno-version of it. During a television time out, a fan wearing a Penguins jersey is booed and cheered at the same time. A Capitals fan is then shown and he too receives a mix of boos and cheers. The Penguins fans then is shown again and turns around to reveal he's wearing a Jagr jersey with the "R" covered up with a word that is less than complimentary. Everyone cheers. We want to type the word, but it wasn't a nice one.

12:45: Crosby takes the puck in the corner and skates across the goal-line into the crease and tries to jam a backhander in. Huet says no.

12:28: Dupus is on his knees in front of the Penguins bench and is shaken up a bit. Trainer Chris Stewart comes out and helps him to his feet band back to the bench.

11:44: Jordan Staal has a chance to win the game, but Huet denied him big time. A puck is slide across the slot to Staal who has a wide-open net to shoot at. Huet is able to slide over and come up with a huge save.

10:56: Quintin Laing is called for kneeing.

8:59: Ruutu absolutely hammers Nicklas Backstrom behind the Washington net.

7:20: Gonchar sneaks in from the point and hits the post with a shot. Penguins fans stand to celebrate then groan in disappointment.

5:23: Ovechkin comes streaking up the ice, moves across teh slot and tries to get by Gonchar. Gonchar appears to trip him up a bit but Ovechkin still manages to get a shot off. Fleury makes the save.

4:58: During the television stoppage, Therrien can be seen screaming at an official and pointing a finger at him. The Penguins were called for too many men on the ice. Therrien is steaming.

2:34: Orpik plans Fehr into the boards and drops him.

0:28: Oh wow is that awful. Th epuck gets played into the Capitals net. Huet tries to knock it down and pull it into his body with his stick but it slides just out of his reach. Backstrom tries to play it away from his net, but accidently fires it into his own cage. Huet is lying on the ice in absolute dejection. Backstrom looks sick. The "home" fans cheer. The home "fans" leave. Crosby gets credit for the goal. The Capitals call a time out to get organized. Penguins 3-2.

0:12: Malkin comes up ice and slide the puck across the crease to Staal who fires it home for one of us. Penguins 4-2.

0:00: End of game. Penguins 4, Capitals 2.

POSTGAME-Wow, what a game! This had just a little bit of everything. Up and down action. Hitting. Nothing dirty. Lots of emotion. A cosmic bowling atmosphere. This had a playoff feel to it. A playoff series between these two teams would be fun to watch.

-We don't care what team you cheer for. Some part of you has to feel bad for Backstrom. That was rough.

-The Penguins were outshot 38-26. They did out-shoot the Capitals, 13-5, that period.

-Faceoffs were an issue again. Washington dominated, 39-22.

-Crosby only got 19:37 of ice time.

-Ovechkin had 25:22.

-Game Summary

-Event Summary



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