WASHINGTON DC - FEBRUARY 06: Alex Ovechkin #8 and Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals rough it up with Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Verizon Center on February 6 2011 in Washington DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Penguins Vs. Capitals: Caps Win 3-0, But Bruce Boudreau Angry At Matt Cooke's Hit On Alex Ovechkin

The Capitals beat the Penguins 3-0, but the real fireworks came after the game when Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau teed off on Matt Cooke after he took out Alex Ovechkin's knee.

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Penguins Vs. Capitals: Mike Green Suffers Injury As Brooks Orpik Slapshot Hits Him In The Face

Hockey can be a brutal sport. And as Mike Green found out today, in case he hadn't known before, hockey can be very painful too.

At the end of the first period of today's key matchup between the Capitals and Penguins, Green was struck in the face by a puck, and had to leave the game. Despite being listed as questionable, Green did not return to the ice.

Not for the squeamish, here's video of the injury, video of the blood pouring onto the ice, and a video highlight package from ESPN.

The injury to Mike Green came on a slapshot from Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik from point position, and does not seem likely to keep the defenseman out of action for an extended period of time, as he told our Adam Vingan in the locker room following the game.

"I'm alright," Green said. "I got hit in the head obviously with the puck, so it doesn't feel that great ... I feel good," Green said. "It's unfortunate that I couldn't come back, but I'm all stitched up and hopefully can come back next game. We'll see how I feel in the morning and we'll assess it from there."


Penguins Vs. Capitals: Bruce Boudreau On Matt Cooke's Hit: 'He Knows Damn Well What He Did'

Washington, D.C. - Naturally, games between the Capitals and Penguins are steeped in storylines and controversy. As Bruce Boudreau said after the Capitals 3-0 win on Super Bowl Sunday "they don't like us [and] we don't like them."

After Sunday's victory, further escalating the rivalry shouldn't be too difficult.

With Washington leading 2-0 in the third period, Alex Ovechkin made a move around Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke, only to find himself on the receiving end of a knee on knee collision. Cooke, who is recognized as one of the NHL's dirtier players, stuck his leg out and sent Ovechkin soaring in his own end.

Ovechkin rose from the ice and went after Cooke as center Nicklas Backstrom quickly came over to help. Cooke was given the gate for tripping, escaping what could have been a five-minute major, plus a game misconduct. Washington's superstar was clearly shaken up following the hit, but skated for part of the ensuing power play.

In his press conference following the game, Boudreau had some harsh words for Cooke, further cementing the latter's status as one the more disliked players in the NHL.

"It's Matt Cooke, OK? Need we say more?" Boudreau said. "I mean it's not like it's his first rodeo. He's done it to everybody and then he goes to the ref and says 'what did I do?' He knows damn well what he did and you know there's no doubt in my mind that he's good at it and he knows how to do it. He knows how to pick this stuff and we as a league, we still buy into this that 'oh, it was an accidental thing.'"

Ovechkin was more subdued in his comments.

"I don't know," he said. "I think he was frustrated, he wants to do something. It's his game. It's OK."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma saw the incident in a different light. From Katie Carrera of the Washington Post:

"I didn't think much contact was made. Maybe their skates get wound up together. But, you know, Ovechkin was out on the ensuing power play."

Cooke himself was of like mind.

"I just tracked the puck and he tried to cut back on me. We clipped skates."

There's no love lost between these two teams and as the postseason draws closer, the hatred could intensify. Washington has one more regular season tilt with the Penguins in Pittsburgh on February 21st and currently the two clubs are on track to play each other in the first round of the playoffs as the fourth (Pittsburgh) and fifth (Washington) seeds.

H/T to @wyshynski for the Ovechkin quote.


Penguins Vs. Capitals: Caps Super On Super Sunday, Shutout Penguins 3-0

WASHINGTON, D.C. - One would think that the crunching hits and thick tension would be saved for the Super Bowl Sunday evening. But inside Verizon Center Sunday afternoon, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins did their best impression.

The Capitals prevailed 3-0 over the Penguins in a game that featured plenty of physicality.

In a first period that featured almost twice as many combined hits as combined shots, the Capitals landed the first blow at 18:22. John Erskine fired a slap shot from the left point that caught Marc-Andre Fleury. Brooks Laich was in the crease and pounced on the rebound for his 11th goal of the season. There were no penalties in the first period, but blood was drawn when Mike Green left the game after taking a Brooks Orpik slap shot to the face. Green did not return, but said after the game that he was feeling fine.

The tensions flared once again in the second period. Mike Knuble thought he had an early goal to put the Capitals up 2-0, but it was washed out after the referee ruled that Matt Hendricks had interfered with Fleury. Yet, with Hendricks in the box for goaltender interference, Marcus Johansson made sure that his goal would count. Johansson entered the zone and fired a top shelf backhand that caught Fleury flat-footed for a shorthanded goal at 3:58. It was Johansson's seventh goal of the season.

"The puck bounced from their defense and I got it," Johansson said. "[David Steckel] did a good job going to the net and I think Fleury didn't see the puck coming. It's a little lucky."

It was in the final period where the animosity could no longer be contained. First, Tim Wallace went after Steckel and the two fought, perhaps in retaliation for Steckel's collision with Sidney Crosby in the Winter Classic that has the Pittsburgh captain suffering from concussion symptoms. Later, Matt Cooke would make a knee-to-knee hit on Alex Ovechkin that caused every player on the ice to get involved. Ovechkin would ultimately return to the ice after shaking off the effects.

With the Penguins pressing, Michal Neuvirth stood his ground in making 22 saves for the shutout. Neuvirth received a text from Capitals goaltending coach Arturs Irbe that Semyon Varlamov was feeling sick and did not find out about his start until he arrived Sunday morning. During HBO's "24/7," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma remarked that Neuvirth wasn't that good, but Neuvirth made sure to tell him otherwise.

"Before the game, I remembered when he said that and I kind of looked at him during the warm up and told myself that I got to shut these guys out tonight," Neuvirth said.

Knuble would make up for his no-goal with the empty-netter to seal the victory. The Capitals won't have long to enjoy the win; the San Jose Sharks come to Verizon Center Tuesday as a precursor to a West Coast road trip starting next week.

"We know how tough our schedule is," head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We were on top of our game. The realization that winning is fun. When [the Caps] play that way and they're committed, it's a great team effort."


Capitals Vs. Penguins: Marcus Johansson's Shorthanded Goal Gives Washington A 2-0 Lead After Two

Washington, DC-The Capitals struck again in the second period, extending their lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Verizon Center on this Super Sunday.

Mike Knuble's appeared to score early in the period to put the Caps up 2-0. But the goal was waved off as the officials ruled Matt Hendricks had interfered with Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury prior to the puck crossing the line.

However, Washington managed to make up for the missed opportunity with Hendricks in the box. Marcus Johansson carried the puck into the zone and lifted a backhand past Fleury to become the sixth rookie in the NHL to score a shorthanded goal this year. Johansson was terrific throughout the frame, creating numerous chances and applying a steady forecheck upon Pittsburgh's forwards.

The Capitals have the edge in puck possession thanks to the hard-fought efforts of their third and fourth line units while Brooks Laich has provided an offensive punch with his first period goal and a game-high four shots.

The NHL's first and second ranked penalty killing units haven't disappointed as neither team has been able to convert with the man advantage. The Capitals are 0-2 on the power play and the Penguins failed to score during Hendricks' trip to the box.

Washington will begin the third period with a shortened power play as Max Talbot will serve another 24 seconds for a slashing infraction.

Mike Green, who left the game at the end the first period after being struck in the side of the head by a Brooks Orpik slapshot, is questionable to return according to the Capitals.


Penguins Vs. Capitals: Brooks Laich's Goal Highlights Chippy First Period As Caps Lead 1-0

It's obvious that there would be no love lost between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. Based on the physicality of the first period, that might be an understatement.

The Caps and Pens traded blows, but it was Brooks Laich who landed the first punch to give the Capitals 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Near the end of a period that saw only 13 combined shots, but 25 combined hits, Mathieu Perreault sent the puck around the boards to John Erskine at the left point. Erskine fired a slap shot that caught Marc-Andre Fleury. The rebound dropped right in front of the crease, where Laich was waiting to pounce for his 11th goal of the season at 18:22.

No penalties were called, but blood was drawn as time expired as Mike Green took the brunt of a slap shot from Brooks Orpik in the face. Green bled on the ice, but was able to skate to the locker room under his own power.


Penguins Vs. Capitals: Caps Look To Thwart Penguins On National Stage Yet Again

When the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins last met, the Caps left Pittsburgh with a 3-1 win in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in front of over 68,000 at Heinz Field and an international audience. It seems fitting that the rematch would come on yet another huge stage: Super Bowl Sunday. The Caps and Pens will square off Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center in the precursor to Super Bowl XLV.

This isn't the first time that these two teams have met on Super Bowl Sunday; last season, the Capitals battled back from a 4-1 deficit to win 5-4 in overtime behind a hat trick from Alex Ovechkin. The Caps hope to keep momentum alive after Friday's 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, a win that cut the Lightning's Southeast Division lead to three points.

The Capitals won Friday's game without the services of Alexander Semin, who is still nursing a groin injury. Semin, who hasn't played since January 8, practiced this week and could return next week. The streaky winger has 18 goals this season despite being held scoreless since November 28.

Compared to Pittsburgh's injury woes, Washington's situation looks advantageous. Evgeni Malkin tore his ACL and MCL in a collision with Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers Friday and will likely miss the rest of the season. The Penguins are already missing captain Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Mark Letestu (knee surgery), so they are missing three of their top four centers. The fourth center in question, Jordan Staal, avoided suspension last week after punching New York Rangers forward Brandon Prust during a scrum.

Despite those injuries, the Penguins have won five straight; they currently sit six points ahead of the Capitals in the Eastern Conference standings. Washington has earned points in five of six games (3-1-2).

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