Capitals knocked to 2nd place in East Division as Penguins sweep 2-game series

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J.J. Regan
·2 min read
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Capitals knocked to 2nd place as Penguins sweep 2-game series originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Bryan Rust scored twice and goalie Tristan Jarry did the rest for the Pittsburgh Penguins as the Capitals fell 3-0 on Saturday.

The win puts the Penguins in the driver seat for the East Division title with 71 points, two ahead of the Caps (69). Washington now sits two points ahead of the third-place New York Islanders and three points ahead of the Boston Bruins. The Capitals and Penguins have already clinched Stanley Cup playoff spots. 

Here is how the loss happened.

Bryan Rust

Rust, always a Capitals killer, was the star on Saturday with two goals which he got as a result of getting the puck past Washington's last man on the offensive blue line.

In the first period, the Caps cycled the puck in the offensive zone and Garnet Hathaway fell as he tried to close off the boards at the blue line. Rust turned on the jets to pick up the puck for the breakaway which he delivered to the back of the net.

In the second period, Rust blocked a slap shot from Dmitry Orlov at the point. The puck bounced out to the neutral zone and Rust turned on the jets again and ended up beating Orlov to the puck, getting a step on him, then beating goalie Ilya Samsonov again on the breakaway.

A sleepy offensive start

Perhaps the loss of Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson finally caught up with them because there just was no offense to speak of for Washington through the first half of the game.

Through the first period, the Caps had five scoring chances compared to Pittsburgh's 11 and one high-danger chance compared to Pittsburgh's five. If not for a flurry of opportunities late in the second, the offensive stats would have appeared pretty damning through the second period as well.

Washington actually had seven of its 10 second-period shots on goal in the last 5:30 of the middle frame when the score was already 3-0. Prior to that, this game was just too easy for Jarry in net.

Tristan Jarry

Once the offense finally woke up for Washington, Jarry was ready. He denied several sparkling opportunities by Anthony Mantha, had a great denial of Lars Eller from the slot and one of his best saves of the game to stone Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Through the first half of the game, Jarry was almost a non-factor as the Caps just were not pushing enough offense. Once the offense started to come, Jarry did not allow Washington any opportunity to get back into the game and his team now is in position to snap the Capitals' streak of five straight division titles.