Penalties take heavy toll on Washington
Share with others:
It wasn't quite the Philadelphia Flyers revisited -- Scott Hartnell was nowhere to be found -- but the Washington Capitals made the same mistakes the Penguins feasted on in their first-round series.
Too many penalties cost the Capitals a chance to take a commanding lead in their second-round series with the Penguins. They gave up just one power-play goal, but having to spend a lot of time killing penalties wore Washington down in a 3-2 overtime loss.
Washington still leads the series, two games to one, but could have been in the dominant position of being one win away from slamming the season shut on the Penguins.
"I think four [penalties] you can get away with and, when we got the fifth one, I thought, 'Now we're playing with fire,' " coach Bruce Boudreau said. "And, when we got the sixth one, I thought, 'OK, now we're in the danger zone.' "
Washington took seven all told, giving up one power-play goal.
"You can't give the opportunities we gave them on the power play," said center David Steckel, who spent more than a third of his 20:42 of ice time killing penalties.
"We need to stay out of the box. We're doing our best to draw them, and they're doing their best. We took some stupid ones tonight."
The Capitals killed one penalty in overtime after defenseman Brian Pothier shot the puck over the glass from his end.
Steckel wasn't complaining of fatigue, but he was victimized in the faceoff circle by Penguins center Sidney Crosby on the winning goal.
The draw came in the circle to the left of Washington goaltender Simeon Varlamov. The Penguins planned a set play they work on often, getting the puck to defenseman Kris Letang at the right point.
Steckel has been matched against Crosby much of the series and had had success against him in faceoffs. He won 13 of his first 20 draws in the game.
Not this time.
"I've been changing up whether I go down quick or whether I don't," Steckel said. "The linesmen for the most part did a great job of making him come in, and I wasn't expecting him to come in and stop.
"I knew they were setting up a play. It was tic-tac-toe. He just got underneath my stick and beat me fair and square, got it to the wall."
Crosby got it to defenseman Mark Eaton, who set up Letang for a winning one-timer.
"I knew we had [Letang] set up there for a one-timer," Crosby said.
"I was able to win it clean and send it back to Eaton so he could get it to [Letang] for a one-timer."
The shot appeared to go off Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrisonn and past Varlamov, who could easily have been the hero -- again -- for Washington, which had won five games in a row before last night.
The rookie goaltender stopped 39 shots. In the three games this series, he has thwarted the Penguins on 106 of 114 shots.
"He played great, especially in the second," Steckel said. "He was the only bright spot there."
The Penguins took it to the Capitals in the second period with a 15-4 shot advantage, often swarming in the Washington end whether they were on one of their three power plays or not.
"They were in our zone and we were backtracking, and I think I told them after the second period that we were playing not to lose rather than playing to win," Boudreau said.
"That's just what it looked like because we were getting the puck in, but we weren't forechecking, so we were just sitting back and letting them come back at us."
So far, the home team has won each home game. Although they have home-ice advantage as the higher seed in the best-of-seven series, the Capitals missed a chance to break the trend and put themselves in a golden spot.
First Published May 7, 2009 1:22 am