Washington-DC If tonight's game was any indication of the hockey to be played next week at Heinz Field between the Penguins and Capitals, we are in for a treat. The appetizer to the main course that is the Winter Classic was a gritty effort on both sides, ending in a shootout that lasted seven rounds with Pittsburgh emerging victorious.
Pascal Dupuis netted the game-winner against goalie Michal Neuvirth to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory in a brutal battle between two archrival superstars and their teams.
While Alex Ovechkin didn't score until the shootout, Sidney Crosby had a multi-point game to spearhead the win in Washington with the HBO cameras rolling.
Though the Caps lost, they were the better team for long stretches of the game. They controlled the puck for much of the first period and a half, but didn't score until late in the second on a Mike Green powerplay goal. Despite the pressure they brought in waves, goals were once again difficult to come by and Washington never led. However, the team felt good about their performance.
"We're back. We're back to the style of hockey we can play," said defenseman Karl Alzner. "And that was one of the questions that [was] going around. Hopefully, we silenced a few of them. We had a low-scoring game and we played solid for 60 minutes. It was a grade-A effort from our team. That's what we like to see."
As Alzner pointed out, the contest was a surprisingly low-scoring affair. Washington's defense, led by Green, played soundly for much the night, limiting the Penguins to just 12 shots for the first two periods. Pittsburgh also went scoreless on five powerplays courtesy of another stellar night by the penalty killing unit.
Green played a tremendous game, scoring the all-important breakthrough goal in the second while playing well in his defensive zone down the stretch. He made a great play behind his own net late in the third to poke the puck away from Crosby and appeared to have possibly scored the game-winner in overtime, but for a sensational glove save from Marc-Andre Fleury.
"That was his best game in a long time," said Washington coach Bruce Boudreau. "He was good defensively and he jumped into the plays and made things happen offensively."
While Crosby provided the offense with a goal and an assist (extending his point streak to 23 games), Fleury stopped 32 shots and six skaters in the shootout to backstop the win.