The Caps have made a habit this season of slow starts and furious comebacks, but spotting the Pittsburgh Penguins three wins in the series and three goals in Game 6 was one hole that was too deep to climb out of. After a furious comeback in an absolutely crazy game, Washington saw its season come to a close in heart-breaking fashion on Tuesday with a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 6. Here’s the instant analysis:
How it happened: The Penguins took a 3-0 lead after scoring on both ends of a double-minor, but the Caps were able to battle back thanks in large part to back-to-back-to-back delay of game calls against Pittsburgh in the third period. It wasn’t enough, however, as Nick Bonino tapped in a rebound goal in overtime to finish the Caps off 4-3.
A not-so-happy return: In his return from suspension, Brooks Orpik took a double-minor in the second period for high-sticking Carl Hagelin. The Penguins scored on each power play to take a 3-0 lead and it looked like it was all over but the crying.
Triple threat: After the Caps cut the deficit down to 3-2, they had ample opportunity to tie it up in the third period as Pittsburgh was called for not one, not two, but three delay of game penalties. The penalties came at 10:32, 11:38 and 12:34. For those of you doing the math at home, that means the Caps not only had three power plays, they had two 5-on-3 opportunities. Carlson finally struck on the second two-man advantage to tie the game at 3.
Ouch for Alzner: With the return of Orpik for the Caps and Olli Maatta for Pittsburgh, both teams boasted their full lineups to start the game. It didn’t stay that way for long, however. Karl Alzner took a slash from Sidney Crosby in the first period that appeared to hit him in the right hand/wrist and left foot. Alzner went to the locker room afterwards and, though he returned for the second period, he was clearly hurting and played only two shifts before leaving the game for good.
Killing the penalty killers: Heading into Game 6, the Caps had allowed only one power play goal to the Penguins in the series. Pittsburgh scored two critical power play goals in the second period alone on Tuesday. With Orpik in the penalty box and Alzner ailing, the penalty killers looked out of sync and the Penguins took advantage.
Pesky Penguins: The loss now drops the Caps’ all-time series record against Pittsburgh to 1-8. Washington’s only win over the Penguins came in 1994 when the Caps won in six games. Alex Ovechkin is now 0-2 against rival Sidney Crosby in the playoffs.
What it means: After a season filled with so much promise, one in which the Caps established themselves as the team to beat in the NHL with a monster lead in the standings, the Caps saw their season end where it always seems to: in the second round. It is another disappointing finish for a team that, on paper, has the talent to compete for a Stanley Cup. The Penguins won the series 4-2 and will now move on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals.