Tom Wilson #43 of the Washington Capitals hits Trevor Daley #6 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on May 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
MINUS – Third-period breakdown costs Pens
The Penguins entered the third period with a 2-1 lead and came close to adding to it when forward Tom Kuhnhackl produced a great scoring chance just over two minutes in. Braden Holtby made the save on the German-born forward, which allowed the Washington Capitals to convert three goals over a span of 4:58 to go up 4-2. Taking the lead – their first on home ice in the series – gave them a chance to play a bit looser, and the Penguins weren’t able to come back. Evegni Malkin and Carl Hagelin were victimized for two of the goals. Being beaten by Nicklas Backstrom on the first (Capitals second goal) and then failing to clear the puck at the blue line that eventually turned into the go-ahead goal for Evgeny Kuznetsov.
PLUS – Special teams shine in loss
The Penguins found themselves in the penalty box three times in the game, twice in the first period, and were able to come up with kills on all three. Defenseman Ron Hainsey and center Matt Cullen played big roles on those kills, but the Penguins had plenty of help from players like Tom Kuhnhackl, Nick Bonino, Olli Maatta and Brian Dumoulin. On the other side of the puck, the power play scored on one of two chances, with Phil Kessel finishing off a sequence that featured multiple quick passes around the offensive zone. He was camped out to the right of Holtby, where Malkin found him for the goal that pushed the game to 2-1.
MINUS – Give it away, give it away, give it away now
Coach Mike Sullivan talks a lot about puck management. It can be the difference between winning and losing hockey games. When you manage the puck well, especially in the offensive zone, you tend to control play for longer stretches, eat the clock and produce more scoring opportunities. On Saturday, the Penguins were credited with 12 giveaways in the game. Many of those resulted in opportunities the other way for the Capitals. It is worth noting that the Capitals were credited with 10 takeaways in the game, pushing that total of pucks that were essentially turned over to 22. The Penguins have to improve when the series shifts back to PPG Paints Arena on Monday.
MINUS – Another injury looms?
Multiple Penguins players looked to take a beating in the game, including Phil Kessel, Jake Guentzel, and Trevor Daley. Kessel and Guentzel were able to finish the game, but Daley played only 11:09 and didn’t take a shift after the 2:32 mark of the third period. There wasn’t a definitive update on his status following the game, but he was one of the players who were victimized by Capitals’ forward Tom Wilson with a hit from behind during the first period. Wilson also took a charging penalty on Guentzel during the same shift, which required the young forward to retire to the locker room for a brief period of time.