Penguins prove to be too much
Posted on: May 13, 2009 11:04 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2009 11:12 pm
Did the NBA take over the building without anyone realizing it?
After all this was a lot more like their playoff games have been this spring than the NHL's. A blowout. A dud. A total embarrassment. However you choose to label it, this was so one sided it would have been best served with a mercy rule.
Ugly doesn't begin to describe the shell shocked effort the Washington Capitals turned in at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. The 6-2 final score tells it was completely lopsided in favor of the Penguins, but the other numbers -- a 16-5 shots advantage for the Penguins in the crucial first period, a penalty free game for Pittsburgh, a deficit of 15 on the turnover chart for the Capitals -- tell you just how badly Washington was manhandled.
The shame of it all was that this much anticipated series finale bore absolutely no resemblance to the marvelous show these two teams treated everyone to through the first six games, which featured five one-goal decisions, three of them in overtime. It had been an incredible demonstration of just how compelling hockey can be at its best, with two talented teams led by their candidates for the best player in the game title playing at breakneck speed with passion and emotion as they lived up to ridiculously high expectations.
Until tonight that is. The start was pretty typical and actually pretty close, although it didn't take long for the first sign of how bad things would become for the Capitals to appear. About three minutes as a matter of fact. Alex Ovechkin broke past the Penguins defense and was in alone on Marc Andre Fleury, who had been less than stellar earlier in the series and was coming off the first overtime loss of his career. But the Penguins goalie came up with a great glove save, and arguably turned the game around right then and there.
Ovechkin was stopped again on another good chance by Fleury moments later, but as Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told an interviewer during a television timeout, his team's penchant for turning over pucks was already a bigger problem. That was apparent when Washington took the first penalty of the game before the 12 minute mark and was unable to clear its zone on the kill, which resulted in Sidney Crosby giving the Penguins the lead. That was bad enough for Washington, but when Craig Adams scored eight seconds later after the ensuing faceoff, the Capitals were effectively done.
Even so, Washington's rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov kept his team's hopes alive briefly with big stops off Miroslav Satan and Evgeni Malkin before the period ended, but when Bill Guerin connected 28 seconds into the second period and Kris Letang followed with another goal less than two minutes later, it was all over and so was Varlamov's night.
Ovechkin did get his final goal of the season late in the period but Crosby got that back in the third, as the two superstars played each other to a draw in terms of statistics with eight goals apiece in this series. But this game is still all about team and in the end, it was the Penguins, with a far superior team defense and the experience of having been through this before, that made the bigger statement.