Pens Insider: Caps are 10th straight victim
By Chris Bradford firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 12:36 am
Over the last two seasons, Matt Cooke hasn’t done much of anything to warrant league discipline. Hasn’t taken many penalties, period. On Tuesday, the NHL’s former poster child for bad behavior found himself in the penalty box serving a double-minor for boarding Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin. In the third period. Of a tie game.
In Washington’s ensuing four-minute power play (Cooke also received an extra two for unsportsmanlike conduct), Marc-Andre Fleury was the Penguins’ best penalty killer.
However, just nine seconds later, Cooke got a reprieve when he fed Matt Niskanen in the slot on a 3-on-2 break. The defenseman unleashed a wrist shot from 35 feet that beat Capitals goalie Braden Holtby top shelf at with the game-winner at 11:58 in the Penguins’ 2-1 win on Tuesday.
“It’s not a good feeling sitting in the box knowing it’s four minutes to kill but it’s probably the loudest I’ve heard the building in a long time,” Cooke said. “I’m sure it energized the guys.”
It did just that, and it extended the Penguins’ season-long winning streak to 10.
“Last few games have been better for us knowing that, all together as a group we’ve done a great job,” said Fleury who made 28 saves.
1: That’s the number of times that teammates have finished 1-2 in both scoring and plus/minus. Edmonton’s Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri pulled it off in 1984-85 en route to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships for the Oilers. Gretzky recorded 208 points and was plus-98, while Kurri had 135 and was plus-76. After Tuesday night’s game, the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz are 1-2 in both categories at 50 points, plus-22 and 40-points, plus-24, respectively.
“We’d love to have those guys. Certainly, they can do things that other guys in the lineup just can’t. It’s just the way it is. But I think we still believe that we’re a good team and believe in how we play and the strategy and our tactics on how we want to approach games. Guys believe in it and things are going well for us right now and we believe that we can play with anybody.” -- D Matt Niskanen on his team’s success without C Evgeni Malkin and D Kris Letang
With the game tied 1-1 in the third period and LW Matt Cooke serving a double minor, Washington pressed hard but G Marc-Andre Fleury made a number of sparkling saves, including consecutive stops on Washington’s Eric Fehr and Ovechkin at 10:47 and 10:51 of the period. Moments after the penalties were killed, Matt Niskanen scored the game-winner. “Our penalty kill did a great job and Flower made a few saves throughout that one and it seemed like we really had momentum there once we killed it,” said captain Sidney Crosby. “Cookie was coming right out of the box and we got an odd man rush there, Nisky made a great play to put it top shelf.”
-- Besides their 10th win in a row, the Penguins are also riding an eight-game home winning streak. It also finished off their first season sweep of Washington since 2006-07.
-- Pittsburgh is the first team in NHL history to compile a winning streak of 10 or more games in three consecutive seasons.
-- The Penguins pulled one win closer to the franchise mark for wins in a calendar year. The all-time mark of 12 wins was also set in ’06-07 when they went 12-3-2 in March of that season.
-- During the streak, the Penguins have outscored foes by a 39-23 margin. Seven of the 10 wins have been one-goal victories.
-- C Sidney Crosby and Washington LW Alex Ovechkin have now gone head-to-head 25 times, with the Penguins posting a 16-7-2 record. Crosby has outscored Ovechkin in those contests posting 43 points, while Ovechkin has the advantage in goals with 17. Crosby has 14 goals in those games.
-- With his two assists, Crosby now has logged 100 multi-assist games and 200 multi-point games.
-- Since the rivals entered the league in ’05-06, Ovechkin leads all NHL players in points with 703 (351 goals), while Crosby places third overall with 659 points (236 goals). Crosby leads all players over that time span in points per game, averaging 1.42.
-- The Penguins have posted a 5-0 home record against the Southeast Division this season. Over their last 25 home games, the Penguins have gone 22-2-1 including a current 16 game home unbeaten stretch (15-0-1) vs. the Southeast.
-- D Paul Martin’s second-period power-play goal was the Penguins’ league-leading 28th. They currently rank fourth in the league in power-play percentage (24.5).
-- Martin’s goal was his sixth of the season as he now has 16 points in his last 21 games. Martin is currently tied for fifth among defensemen in scoring with 19 points (13 assists). He also stepped into the shoes of Kris Letang, who missed the game with a lower body injury, as the team’s leader in ice time, logging 28:14.
-- Including his assist last night, RW Beau Bennett now has eight points (2G-6A) in his last 12 games.
-- RW Pascal Dupuis saw his three-game scoring streak come to an end. He had picked up four points (3G-1A) over that span.
-- Prior to last night, the Penguins were 0-3-1 all-time against Washington without C Evgeni Malkin. They had been shutout in the last two meetings without the league’s reigning MVP.
-- In his last 28 regular-season home starts, G Marc-Andre Fleury is 22-5-0 with one no-decision. He’s allowed just 16 goals in his last nine games versus Washington.
-- The Penguins extended their sellout streak to 269 consecutive games, with 18,653 in attendance.
1. Matt Niskanen, Pit.
2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pit.
3. Braden Holtby, Wsh.