Monday, April 30, 2018
Penguins have plenty to be mad about in Game 2 loss to Capitals
By Kevin Allen
April 29, 2018
The NHL ruled that replay was inconclusive on Hornqvist's goal. (Photo: Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports)
Injuries. Anger. Controversy. Hard feelings. One win for each team. The Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals series is as competitive as we expected it to be.
The Capitals raised their level of play to post a 4-1 win against Pittsburgh in Game 2 and the Penguins had their ire raised by events in that game.
In the second period, Washington hard-hitting forward Tom Wilson, who has been suspended by the NHL multiple times, struck Pittsburgh top-pairing defenseman Brian Dumoulin with a blow to the head that knocked Dumoulin out of the game.
Wilson was pursuing Dumoulin and his shoulder came up a split second before Alex Ovechkin also struck Dumoulin.
No penalty was called on the play. It was clearly a shot to the head, but the NHL will be looking at whether Wilson had committed to the hit before Dumoulin turned his head into it. Could Wilson have avoided the blow?
The Penguins were miffed about that play, and then were irate in the third period when Patric Hornqvist believed he banged home a rebound after a Sidney Crosby wrap-around try.
Officials did not signal a goal on the ice, but went to video review.
“From my angle, it looked in,” Hornqvist said.
Crosby said from the angle he saw, “it looked pretty clear that it had to be a goal.”
NBC showed the play from several angles before zooming in on one shot that seemed to show white space between the goal line and the puck behind it.
Was it conclusive? The NHL situation room in Toronto ruled the video was inconclusive.
“It’s 100 percent a goal,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “When you blow it up, you can see the white. It’s behind the post. That’s how we saw it. We respectfully disagree with the league. But that’s not anything we can control."
NBC’s Pierre McGuire, stationed between the benches, reported Penguins captain Crosby was fuming at the time of the decision.
It was a key ruling because if it had been ruled a goal, the Penguins would have trailed 3-2 with about half of the third period remaining. Remember that the Penguins erased a two-goal third period lead to win Game 1.
Had Hornqvist been credited with that goal, it would have given the Penguins a major lift.
The potential loss of Dumoulin is a major concern. The Penguins are already playing without injured center Evgeni Malkin, although he is skating in practice and seems close to being ready.
Dumoulin is Kris Letang’s partner, and they are often matched up against Washington’s best players.
The Penguins didn’t say what Dumoulin’s injury is, but when a player is struck in the head, he usually is checked for a concussion.
The Capitals clearly have demonstrated they're capable of winning this series, and their start and ability to hold the lead in the third period surely gives them a confidence boost.
Sometimes the frustrations of bad luck, controversial calls and injuries can overrun a hockey team. But that won’t happen to the Penguins. As a two-time defending champion, they have ample experience in setting aside frustration and anger in the name of fixing the problem.
After the game, they had already moved forward and were talking about improving their starts and playing a more complete game.
“We have to do a better job of being a little harder to play against,” Sullivan said.
Spoken like a coach who fully understand you have leave behind the anger from this game or you will also lose the next game.