Washington, DC-The Pittsburgh Penguins came into tonight's game against the Washington Capitals as the hotter team throughout the month of December. The Caps, still trying to hit their stride after a recent eight-game losing streak, knew they would need to weather an early salvo from a confident Penguins club led by red hot captain Sidney Crosby.
It wasn't the high-scoring affair expected after one period, but the Capitals are very much in this game. In fact, they spent long stretches in the offensive zone only to be thwarted by Pens goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury.
It was an explosive beginning as the Capitals hit the ice in front of a rowdy sellout crowd and Alex Ovechkin punctuated the hype with a massive hit on Evgeni Malkin 42 seconds in. The Caps got an early chance as Malkin went to the box to give Washington a 4-on-3 advantage. However, the Penguins killed off the penalty and at 3:21, Crosby extended his points streak to 23 games with a tip-in from Chris Letang to put Pittsburgh up 1-0.
The Capitals went 0-3 on the powerplay including a 5-on-3 opportunity as Fleury contributed two key saves to preserve the lead. Fleury extended his left pad to deny a chance from Backstrom along the goal line and then made a flashy glove save on an Ovechkin shot from the top of the circle.
The Capitals doubled up the Pens in shots 12-6, but failed to put one past Fleury as the Pens skated into the locker room up 1-0.
It wasn't for lack of effort that Washington trails heading into the second period, but they will need to convert on their scoring chances if they want back into a game they are controlling in terms of puck possession.