Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night at Verizon Center:
How it happened: Say what you want about the Capitals’ slow starts. It’s how they’re finishing that makes them special. Trailing by scores of 1-0 and 2-0 the Caps tied the score on a goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov with under 4 minutes remaining in the second period and won it on a third period power-play goal with 6:22 to play. Former Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen initially appeared to score the game-winner, but both Niskanen and T.J. Oshie said after the game that Oshie got a piece of it and will be credit with the goal. The Caps have now outscored opponents 82-39 in third periods. Oshie drew a high sticking penalty on Evgeny Malkin to put the Caps on the decisive power play. Oshie made a diving play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, then provided a screen, along with Marcus Johansson, to prevent rookie netminder Matt Murray from seeing Niskanen’s blast from the point. Braden Holtby preserved the one-goal cushion with a snappy glove save on Carl Hagelin with 32.8 seconds left.
What it means: The Caps remain the only team in the NHL without back-to-back regulation losses this season. That hasn’t happened since the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens.
Holtby hits 40: Braden Holtby became this year’s first goalie to 40wins, stopping 28 of 30 shots.
Kuzy hits 20: For the first time in his pro career Kuznetsov has hit the 20-goal mark. He notched 19 goals twice in his five seasons in the KHL. Kuznetsov now has 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in his last nine games.
Bura-cuda: Caps left wing Andre Burakovsky’s second-period assist was his 21st point in 21 games (9 goals, 12 assists).
Orlov’s struggles: The Caps played some very loose hockey in the opening 30 minutes, allowing the first goal for the 15th time in the last 18 games. Dmitry Orlov was especially shaky, committing three turnovers and forcing Braden Holtby to save him on two occasions.
Richie: Mike Richards netted his second goal as a Capital to get the the Caps within 2-1. His shot from the right circle appeared to glance off a Penguin. Richards also centered a third line with Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson for much of the night and even took a shift with Alex Ovechkin.
Home ice: The Caps improved to 19-2-1 in their last 22 games at Verizon Center and 25-5-2 at home this season.
Milestones: Former Penguin Brooks Orpik played in his 100th game as a Capital and 802nd game overall. Barry Trotz tied Ron Wilson for ninth place (648) on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list.
Look ahead: The Caps will not have a morning skate on Wednesday, but as you might imagine the Maple Leafs’ morning skate at Verizon Center will be well attended with Brooks Laich making his return to Washington following Sunday’s trade to the Leafs. CSN will carry that game, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with Pregame Live.
MORE CAPITALS: Kuznetsov scores second chance goal to tie game