There was a lot to like in Saturday's 5-2 win for the Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins. There were still some underlying issues as well.
Observations from the win
The fourth line
That's two goals and four assists for Richard Panik in the last four games as he looks completely reignited by his move to the fourth line. He has brought offensive production back to that line as Nic Dowd scored two goals and an assist and Garnet Hathaway tacked on an assist. The fourth line was the best line in the game.
The top line is not going to be able to always carry the team. To have a productive fourth line is such an undervalued asset and you saw why on Saturday.
Penalties are still a problem
Limiting penalties was a major point of emphasis in this game after the Caps practically handed the New York Rangers the win on Thursday by their inability to stay out of the box. So, of course, Washington had to kill off 1:25 of a two-man advantage less than 10 minutes into the game. Penalties were still a major issue on Saturday, it just didn't feel that way because the Caps held Pittsburgh off the board until the third period. Washington gave up five power plays plus a penalty shot, but allowed only one power play goal.
The penalty kill is not going to be able to bail them out every game. They have got to stay out of the box. In a contentious matchup, Pittsburgh was able to limit their penalties to only one. And don't give me that "the refs hate the Caps and love the Penguins." Every fan base feels the refs are against them, get over it and just stay out of the penalty box.
It doesn't mean anything if they lose to Buffalo
This was the best game Washington has played perhaps in the calendar year. It dominated its biggest rival on the road and did it without Alex Ovechkin carrying them. But this win will mean nothing if the Caps turn around and lose in Buffalo.
Washington has been terrible since the start of February, but the three games against Pittsburgh have been notable exceptions. The Caps have won two out of three, but even the 4-3 loss on Feb. 2 was one of the team's better games during a wretched stretch.
Clearly, this team gets up for Pittsburgh. That's great. But if the same team that got destroyed by Philadelphia on Wednesday or that allowed five goals to Mika Zibanejad on Thursday shows up to play the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, this win ultimately won't mean anything at all. Washington has to start stringing together some wins and some consistent play or it will be right back to where it was prior to the Pittsburgh game.
With a 1-0 lead, Washington looked like it was about to waste a good start again as Brenden Dillon was called for interference and the Caps were caught with five men on the ice on the penalty kill less than a minute later. The PK managed to kill off a1:25 two-man advantage and the remainder of the too-many-men penalty. About five minutes later, Nicklas Backstrom scored to give the Caps the 2-0 lead.
V beautiful pass by V for the Backstrom goal 😍 pic.twitter.com/Bwb0wfvtvz— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) March 7, 2020
Play of the game
Dowd's second goal of the game came on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Carl Hagelin. Hagelin forced the turnover which sparked the 2-on-1. Dowd sent the puck back to Hagelin and it looked like Hagelin might have held onto the puck just a fraction too long, but just managed to send it back to Hagelin in time for him to finish the play.
Arlo's dad is on 🔥 today pic.twitter.com/OFUxqiudhH— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) March 7, 2020
Stat of the game
Dowd was the player of the game after recording the first two-goal game of his career.
Today marks Dowd's second multi-point game of the season (2a at San Jose on Dec. 3). Dowd's two goal game also marks the first multi-goal game of his career.— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) March 7, 2020
Quote of the game
T.J. Oshie put it all in perspective.
"I think the win means a lot, but I think the way we played means more."
Caps beak outta slump...— REDROCKER67 (@REDROCKER671) March 7, 2020
Caps 4 Pens 2
Caps go up 2-0 in the 1st, take 5 consecutive penalties in the 2nd, and lose the game 4-2.— Turk in Alaska (@LazyDogBone) March 7, 2020
The Caps score 1st then take 3 penalties in a row and Pit scores 2 PPG's to kill the momentum— Jordan Myers (@jordanmyers27) March 7, 2020
It looked like this is where the game was headed when the Caps gave Pittsburgh the two-man advantage. Luckily, the penalty kill stood tall.
the Penguins only score 2 goals..— Stevie Wonder1369 (@wonder1369) March 7, 2020
Jensen scores— T. Dahlin (@CombatIT673) March 7, 2020
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