Capitals get much-needed win vs. Pittsburgh: 5 reasons Washington won

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J.J. Regan
·3 min read
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Caps get much-needed win vs. Penguins: 5 reasons Washington won originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Capitals coughed up a 2-0 lead in the third period, but Tom Wilson saved the day with a critical power-play goal in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. The win was just Washington's second against Pittsburgh in six games this season.

Here is how the Caps won.

A better start

Washington has really struggled at the start of games recently and had not scored a first-period goal in its last three contests. That ended on Thursday as the Caps made a decent push in the opening frame to exert themselves.

Through the first period, Washington had more shot attempts (21-15) and shots on goal (12-11). There were still too many turnovers and they gave up too many odd-man breaks, but they were not chasing the puck nearly as much. It was a much more even start than their last few games and Tuesday in particular.

Penguins lose Backstrom

We are all waiting for Backstrom to record his next two assists to reach No. 700, but if you are going to give him that much room he might as well just score it himself.

Backstrom picked up a loose puck in the corner then hit Nick Jensen with the pass cross-ice. As Jensen received the puck, Backstrom made his way to the slot. The Penguins got caught puck-watching because no one accounted for Backstrom at all. Jakub Vrana was also at the front of the net and drew Cody Ceci to him, giving Backstrom more room.

Luckily, Jensen saw him and returned the puck to Backstrom who chipped it in for the goal.

The penalty kill

The penalties were a bit one-sided in this one. In such a tight defensive game, Pittsburgh was given several opportunities to take control, but they were turned aside each time by the Caps' penalty kill.

The Penguins had four power-play opportunities, the Caps had two. Washington was perfect on the penalty kill with no goals and only four shots on goal allowed.

Oshie's brilliant goal

I mean, look at this.

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The incredible move and then the effort there to dive and poke the puck through Jarry. That's just incredible. That goal gave Washington a 2-0 lead which looked like it was going to be enough. It was not.

A critical power-play goal

Washington's inability to generate any offense on the power play was a big factor in the loss on Tuesday. The Caps did not score on either of their first two opportunities, but they scored when it mattered most.

Oshie's goal seemed to wake-up the Penguins who came roaring back. After being held without a goal for the first 44 minutes, Pittsburgh scored twice in three minutes to tie the game at 2. About three minutes after Jake Guentzel tied the game up, Drew O'Connor was called for hooking Evgeny Kuznetsov. A power-play opportunity in the third period in a tie game against a rival? Yeah, this was an important moment and one the Caps had to take advantage of. They did as Tom Wilson redirected a John Carlson pass into the net for what would prove to be the game-winner.

Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller would add empty-net goals to finish the Penguins off.