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GM Hockey » All things PLAYOFFS! » GAME OF THE NIGHT: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins, Friday, May 8, 2009, 7pm ET

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins, Friday, May 8, 2009, 7pm ET

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davetherave


All-Star
All-Star
Satan's Choice: a slick pass to Sid...the Pingus pop one.

4-2...and the Caps are only clinging.

shabbs


Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
4-3!

Guest


Guest
I can't beleive the saves i just seen varlamov do ...

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
The Caps and Pens trade markers...and time now works against the Red Army.

Max Talbot proves he's more than just a pretty face. Wink

shabbs

shabbs
Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
My riddle was diddle.
The Pens played the fiddle.
Pitt won the game, the Caps were lame.
And here I am stuck in the middle.

pgood

pgood
Rookie
Rookie
does Crosby EVER smile?? ever?? seriously??

you just tied the series at 2, perhaps you could be just a tiny bit happy about it... maybe?

shabbs

shabbs
Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
pgood wrote:does Crosby EVER smile?? ever?? seriously??

you just tied the series at 2, perhaps you could be just a tiny bit happy about it... maybe?
He is a robot.

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
shabbs wrote:My riddle was diddle.
The Pens played the fiddle.
Pitt won the game, the Caps were lame.
And here I am stuck in the middle.

Shabbs, your poetry was fine...even if the Caps couldn't toe the line.

GO SHABBS GO!

shabbs

shabbs
Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
Did Gonchar cry after the hit by Ovie?

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins, Friday, May 8, 2009, 7pm ET - Page 4 Gonchar_hurt_courtesy_260

I missed the hit - was it bad.

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
davetherave wrote:
shabbs wrote:My riddle was diddle.
The Pens played the fiddle.
Pitt won the game, the Caps were lame.
And here I am stuck in the middle.

Shabbs, your poetry was fine...even if the Caps couldn't toe the line.

GO SHABBS GO!

[ Andre the Giant voice ] You want a peanut? [ /Andre the Giant voice]

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
He got a penalty for it, didn't he? Must have been pretty bad. Should have done that in game one (heh-heh).

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
shabbs wrote:Did Gonchar cry after the hit by Ovie?

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins, Friday, May 8, 2009, 7pm ET - Page 4 Gonchar_hurt_courtesy_260

I missed the hit - was it bad.

REALLY BAD...knee on knee.

You never want to know that kind of pain.

PTFlea

PTFlea
Co-Founder
Co-Founder
So many things in that game. Diddle.

1.Varlamov had a really weak game. He made some saves, but he gave up some horrendous goals.

2.Mike Green basically is good for offense only. Goodness he was woeful tonight.

3.The NHL now has less than 24 hours to make a BIG decision. Does Ovechkin get a 1 game suspension for a vicious knee on knee, or do they turn a blind eye because he's Ovechkin and the game's on a prime night to attract casual viewers?

I'm guessing no suspension, but that was worthy IMO.

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
The next 24 hours? It's all mental

Scott Burnside/ESPN.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have less than 24 hours to find out just how costly their 5-3 victory over the Washington Capitals was Friday night.

The Capitals have the same, painfully short period of time to find out if they are starring in the next chapter of their franchise's grisly playoff horror show.

Both teams face major challenges in regrouping mentally before what looms as a crucial fifth game in this Eastern Conference semifinals series in a rare back-to-back playoff format.

The Penguins may well be without their best defensemen, Sergei Gonchar, who was lost after a controversial knee-on-knee hit by Washington star Alexander Ovechkin late in the first period. The Capitals, meanwhile, must rebound after blowing a 2-0 series lead, knowing their superhuman rookie netminder Simeon Varlamov sprung a leak for the first time this postseason.

As if this series needed any more drama.

Whatever happens Saturday in Washington, it's hard to imagine the outcome won't be impacted in some way by Ovechkin's hit on Gonchar with 5:05 left in the first period. Ovechkin was bearing down on Gonchar, who tried to spin away from the Caps star. As he did, Ovechkin stuck out his right knee slightly and caught Gonchar flush on his right knee. Gonchar remained sprawled on the ice in obvious pain, even as the puck went up ice during the delayed penalty call.

"We're still evaluating where he's at," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said after the game. It was an injury that he couldn't play with tonight. Our doctors are still looking at him and taking care of him."

Much of the discussion leading up to Saturday will be the hit, and no doubt, by the time you read this, league officials will have made a decision about whether or not to pursue supplemental discipline. It will be a shock if Ovechkin is suspended, even if many of the Penguins players were incensed by the hit.

"That's three games in a row where he's out there trying to hurt guys," Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik said.

Still, the NHL's goal-scoring leader for the past two seasons has no history of dirty plays.

That said, it will be a significant surprise if Gonchar plays Saturday night, and his loss has the potential to reshape the final three games of this series. It wasn't until Gonchar returned to the lineup in the second half of the regular season that the Penguins turned their season around and looked like Stanley Cup contenders. On this night, he ripped a power-play goal past Varlamov to tie the game at 1 early in the first period; he logs big minutes playing against opposing teams' top forward units."I think in terms of replacing Sergei Gonchar, you don't get to replace [No.] 55, but we have depth at the defensive position for a reason, this occasion," Bylsma said. "I think our team knows how to play whether we have a full lineup or whether we have to replace an injury like this. And I think our team will be confident going forward that we can do it and we don't have to change something or do something miraculously."


If Gonchar cannot play, look for Philippe Boucher to move into the lineup.

After the game, Ovechkin seemed genuinely remorseful of the hit on his fellow countryman.

"Yeah, probably was knee-on-knee, but like I tried to hit him with my shoulder and he just move left," the Russian forward said. "I was disappointed, too."

Ovechkin insisted he didn't want to hurt Gonchar. "It's not my play," he said.

This marked the second game in a row Ovechkin has seen the level of his play dip. He did not score for the first time in the series and registered only two shots on net. Remember Game 2 in Washington when he had three goals and 12 shots?

"Alex is only human. He can't be unbelievable every night," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "If you take the analogies of baseball players, they don't hit home runs all the time. They can go eight games and then they'll get three and everyone's back on the bandwagon. Alex is a good player. He's a great player. He just had one of those nights where he's not going to get three goals."

If Ovechkin has been "mortalized," his counterpart in the hockey god department, Sidney Crosby, continues to lead the Penguins as he scored the game-winner early in the third period and added an assist. Both players have eight points in the series.

The problem for Boudreau is, he's suddenly got a team full of humans who need to regain their otherworldly form and not much time in which to engage such a transformation.

Norris Trophy candidate Mike Green did make a nice play that led to Washington's second goal, but Boudreau acknowledged there were a couple of defensive "gaffes." Most troubling, though, was the sudden deflation of Varlamov.

He was beaten five-hole from well out by Gonchar's shot that tied the game at 1 and then whiffed on a long Ruslan Fedotenko wrist shot that glanced off his catching glove and toppled into the net to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead in the first period. Later, when the Caps had closed to within one goal, Varlamov couldn't control a weak Maxime Talbot shot from the left side with 5:14 left in the third to restore the Penguins' third two-goal lead of the game.

Game 4 marked the first time in the series the Penguins had a two-goal lead at all, a testament to Varlamov's stellar play.

"He struggled. Again, he's human. He had a bad game," Boudreau said of his netminder. "When you look at it, it's his 10th game, I think, in the playoffs, and arguably there were four soft goals out of the five. But he'll bounce back. He's a real competitive guy."

Washington captain Chris Clark, who scored his first goal of the postseason Friday, said they are still committed to Varlamov.

"If he gets it all out of him in one game, that's great," Clark said. "It happens. Everybody has an off night."

Boudreau made perhaps the boldest lineup move of this postseason. After Game 1 of the opening round, he yanked veteran netminder Jose Theodore and replaced him with the untested Varlamov, who responded by going 6-3 with a 1.64 GAA and .942 save percentage heading into action Friday.

The standing joke in the Caps' locker room has been that Varlamov, who speaks no English, has no sense of the pressure he should be facing. If that was the case, it is no longer.

Boudreau will go back to Varlamov in Game 5, but one wonders how long the leash will be if the Penguins get to him early. Not that giving up the first goal is a bad thing given that the team which scores first in this series has lost all four games.

This also marked the first game of the series in which Varlamov did not outplay his counterpart, Marc-Andre Fleury.

For the second game in a row, the Caps opened the contest by scoring on their first shot of the game. On Friday, it was Nicklas Backstrom, who beat Fleury with an eminently stoppable shot from the left side. Yet Fleury bounced back and did not allow the Caps to get up by two goals, robbing Sergei Fedorov with a glove save off a nice pass by John Erskine.

Varlamov did not provide such support for his teammates, and the "bend but don't break" theory of goaltending so important in Game 4 will be equally crucial as the clock quickly ticks away before Game 5 on Saturday night.
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
I missed the game and the hit, but for what it's worth, here's the clip:


Ovechkin did not stick his knee out at the last second, he was going in "wide" to begin with. So it's not as obvious as some of Ulf Samuelsson's career-enders. That, combined with the fact that it's Ovechkin probably means no suspension. Personally (and I picked Pittsburgh in the pool) I don't think a suspension is warranted, but since the game is not on NBC, who knows.

As for whether Gonchar will miss or not, all I can say is that he got off the ice with just the trainer's assistance. He didn't get carried off on the shoulders of team mates. Maybe it's just a bruise or charley horse and not ligament damage. That said, I doubt he plays tonight.

shabbs

shabbs
Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
This looks to be the typical result of when someone tries to side-step a check and their leg takes the hit as they move to the side. Looked like Ovie was going for a shoulder on shoulder hit, but Gonchar stepping aside exposed his leg. Tough break. No suspension warranted IMO.

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
Agreed. Still, Pittsburgh has got to do something, since Ovechkin has been running around -- it's his style, after all. But they shouldn't go after him. They should play strong against him defensively but target Green, Semin and Backstrom for some extra-curricular activities. And Fleury has to play like a 1st overall.

Nasty Nas

Nasty Nas
Rookie
Rookie
what the heck does Ovie have against Gonchar? He always goes
after him its insane. Gonch must have slept with his mom or
something.

It wasn't a dirty hit just unfortunate that Gonchar stepped to the
side. Hopefully BOucher can fill in and not play like balls as he
did against Philly.

I really liked the fact they got Boucher during the year so I'm preying he can play well.

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