By emphasizing defense, Pens pull out of 0-2 hole and seize control
Good example: Pittsburgh's third goal was scored by
For the second time in the series, the Penguins were the beneficiaries of a bounce off a Washington defender in overtime.
Lucky? Sure. But at this time of year, you make your own luck. Go to the net and good things happen.
Of course, the break just as easily could have gone the other way. Malkin was out there for the duration of the power play and tired legs have a way of translating into goals against. All things considered, Pittsburgh coach
"[Malkin] was at the end of a two-minute shift, and he still had enough juice to drive to the net," Bylsma said. "He certainly got a favorable bounce, but it doesn't happen if he's not moving his feet and driving to the net. That's what he does. He's a beast when he does that, and we got a good result."
Malkin wasn't quite the unstoppable force that he was in Game 3, but he was more of a presence than in Game 4, and it was the support that he and
When the result was on the line, Malkin turned it up. Just as in Game 3, it was his aggressive play that drew the penalty that led to his power play goal
No doubt Caps fans are moaning about the lack of a call on
Sure, it happened 20 feet from the puck. But it was the right decision. Truth is, the refs had put the whistle away on that kind of activity for the whole game and good for them. People always say, "Let 'em play," and that's exactly what they did.
What those rocking the red really should be ticked about is that Gordon and
While killing the penalty, Steckel swiped the puck from a Penguin in the neutral zone and carried it into the Pittsburgh zone. In regulation time, that's the right decision. You make the most of the space you're given, and he had a bit to work with. But in overtime of a playoff game, you've got to dress your thinking in bubble wrap and play it safe. Dump the puck into the zone and roll back. Instead, both forwards went in on the forecheck and in taking that chance both were caught deep when the Pens broke out. And instead of hanging back in the neutral zone where they could have gunked up Pittsburgh's transition, they had a nice view of Malkin's rear end as he barreled toward the net for the deciding goal.
No one's pointing fingers at Varlamov for the overtime winner. But there are probably a few sideways glances. The kid who looked impregnable over the past couple weeks now appears to have sprung a few leaks.
Of the nine goals he's allowed in the last two games, six were playable. Not easy stops, but the kind he was making earlier in his charmed run. And those pucks that he's fishing out of the net now are what have changed the complexion of this series.
Is he tiring? Feeling the pressure? Tough to say. What is obvious is that Pittsburgh's comfortable testing his glove hand (
If it's not physically tiring, it has to be mentally exhausting. At this point, he can't count on his teammates to be there to either clear out lurking Penguins or clean up his refuse. Shame on them for that. But if he doesn't do a better job of controlling his leftovers, the Caps are coming home to clean out their lockers, not play a Game 7.
Tells you all you need to know about
Boudreau said much the same after the game. "I could talk until the frigging cows come home about him. He plays good all the time. He's the MVP. There's got to be something else to talk about."