You hear it all the time when it comes to the playoffs. When teams play those first two games on the road, the goal is also to walk away with at least a split. The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to earn that split in Washington by way of a 2-1 win in Game 2 on Saturday.
"We wanted to go back at least with one," Sidney Crosby said. "We played well the last couple games so I think we deserved at least to get a split."
"It's huge, I think," Kris Letang said. "It's a big momentum game that we're going home with."
For the Penguins, it was mission accomplished. Now the pressure falls on the Caps to do the same thing in Pittsburgh: take at least one of the two road games. To do so, they will have to have a much better start to Game 3 than they showed Saturday.
Through two periods the Caps were out-shot 28-10. Somehow, the deficit was only 1-0 and the Caps were able to tie it with a strong third period, but the game could have gone much differently if the team had battled as hard for the first 40 minutes as it did in the final 20.
"We have to be better, plain and simple," head coach Barry Trotz said.
While he was not satisfied with the play of his team in the first two periods, he was also not surprised by how strong Pittsburgh looked at the start.
"What you see in the playoffs a lot of times is you go into a sereies and a team wins Game 1, there's a sense of heightened desperation on a team that lost that game and I sense that they had a heightened sense of desperation."
Now the Caps will need to feel that desperation heading into Pittsburgh. By losing Game 2, Washington has yielded home-ice advantage. Both teams need three more wins, but three of the remaining fives games of the series will be in Pittsburgh. If the Caps don't feel that "heigthened desperation" in Games 3 and 4, they could find themselves down 3-1 in the series when play returns to Washington on Saturday.
Where do the Caps need to improve? Well, that's not too hard to figure out.
Said Karl Alzner, "You need leave more of a mark early in the game."
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