The Washington Capitals were cruising to a 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and it looked as though the score should have been a lot worse if not for Marc Andrew Fleury standing on his head all night. Some miracle saves kept the Penguins in it with under 5 minutes to go in the game. A flurry of shots that did not go were finally rewarded with a beautiful one time snipe from Evgeni Malkin with 1:53 left in the 3rd.
After pulling Fleury, Justin Shultz received a perfect pass from Malkin at the top of the slot and banged it off TJ Oshie’s stick and past Braden Holtby for the equalizer with a minute left.
A frantic 65 seconds later and we were headed to OT at PPG. The Pens had a few chances but ultimately Kevin Shattenkirk ripped one past Fleury to win it and make the series 2-1 headed to Game 4 in Pittsburgh.
The big story of the night is the chippiness and shots taken by both sides but primarily the hit from Matt Niskanen on Sidney Crosby in the 1st period. Cross check to the head which left Crosby in distress on the ice for quite a while. We can assume he has some concussion symptoms and it will be unlikely for him to play on Wednesday. I hope I am wrong but it did not look good and he did not return to the bench the rest of the game. There are two sides to every argument and while former Penguins and Crosby teammate Niskanen says it was not intentional, the video clearly shows less of a reactionary event and more of a method to harm within a hockey play. A quick reaction with your hands would be to react back. He leaned in and extended his arms very clearly.
While I am sure he did not wish to strike Crosby near the head/neck area, any time you go after a vulnerable player like he did, something negative can result. And it did. Look for some Penguins vengeance in Game 4.
It goes without saying that the next game is HUGE in deciding this series. Putting the Caps down 3-1 will more than likely ice it for the Penguins but losing two games at home when the series was very much in hand could be devastating for Pittsburgh. We will see Wednesday night.