Sunday, May 08, 2016

Plus-Minus: Kunitz chips in, but Penguins fell on penalty killing chances

By Brian Metzer
May 8, 2016

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais). Washington Capitals right wing Justin Williams (14) celebrates his goal against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) with his teammates during the second period of Game 5 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern ...

Washington Capitals right wing Justin Williams (14) celebrates his goal against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) with his teammates during the second period of Game 5 on Saturday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

PLUS – Another Kuni heard from
Chris Kunitz had been pretty quiet in the playoffs scoring picking up just two assists in nine games, but he made himself a factor on Saturday night. He scored a first period power-play goal to tie the game 1-1 and it was one we have seen from him many times before. He went hard to the net, screened the goaltender and got his stick on a loose puck. He put four shots on goal, attempted eight overall and added two hits. He also had one takeaway and managed to win a faceoff.
MINUS – Killed by Penalties
The Penguins’ penalty kill had done a nice job of limiting the Capitals chances through 12 power-play opportunities in the series. That changed on Saturday night, when they took a number of undisciplined penalties and went to the box five times through the first two periods and six overall and were stung for two goals. Their killers lost track of Alex Ovechkin both times, leaving him wide open in the left wing circle for one-timed shots. He buried the first, beating Matt Murray over his glove hand, and the second turned into a rebound that T.J. Oshie chipped in. They were passive, their sticks weren’t active and they didn’t take away passing lanes. The Capitals' power play is not a beast that they want to have awoken.
PLUS – Charging the power play
Kunitz’s goal in the first period came on the power play. Could that be the spark that the power-play unit needed after going 0 for 14 coming into Game 5? Maybe. The unit had just two opportunities in the game and scored on one of them. Collectively, the Penguins put eight shots on goal while on power play and seemed to generate more pressure than at any point in the series. They had in front of Braden Holtby, which skewed shooting lanes and could be a recipe moving forward.
MINUS – Mismanaging the puck
The Penguins lacked discipline in terms of staying out of the penalty box, but they also lacked discipline in how they managed the puck. They were credited with 14 giveaways, one of which ended up in the back of their net. Brian Dumoulin collected a loose puck in the defensive zone and tried to make a pass, but it slid weakly off of his stick and right to Capitals’ forward Justin Williams. Williams cruised down the slot and fired a wrist shot into Matt Murray’s belly. Murray didn’t have a handle on it and squirted through him and in. Better decisions have got to be made in all facets of the game moving forward.
PLUS – Should Schultz Stay in?
Justin Schultz isn’t known as a stout defender and he isn’t going to shoulder a huge load in terms of minutes, but he could be a factor moving forward. He logged just 11:51 minutes in Game but had three shots on net and blocked two shots. If he is given some power-play time, he could be a key there with his ability to get pucks to the net from anywhere in the offensive zone. He came very close to beating Holtby early in the second, but his shot was stopped with a glove save.
MINUS – Game 5 revival
This series marks the ninth time the Penguins have met the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It now marks the first time the Capitals have won Game 5. They weren’t dominant, but they did everything that they had to do to push the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Tuesday night. They managed to score three goals on their first 12 shots of the game and tightened things up, holding the Penguins to just nine third-period shots as they tried to erase a two-goal deficit. The win ended a three-game losing streak for the Capitals – their only three-game streak of the season. Will this game haunt birds? Time will tell.

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