The Capitals are starting to play to their potential. This time around, it’s against an even faster, more polished, and flat-out better opponent than their foes in the first round. In both games, the Pittsburgh Penguins have started out strong and have been aggressively pursuing the puck and continually testing rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov.
The second series is eerily similar to the first considering the Caps have won their first two games against the Penguins by one point each against a fast, offensive team. Washington is essentially in the same situation the New York Rangers put them in during the first series and considering the hole the Capitals already dug themselves out of this postseason, it means anything is still possible for the Penguins.
Reminiscent of Game One, Penguins star Sidney Crosby once again struck early in the first period (6:38 into the contest) with his first of three goals in the game.
This time, Alex Ovechkin stepped up with his best game of the playoffs and continued to prove why he is the best in the game by producing his first career playoff hat trick, prompting a joyous reaction from the sold-out Verizon Center crowd.
Historically in hockey, when a player from the home-team scores three goals (called a hat-trick), the crowd reactively throws their lids onto the ice to celebrate the player’s achievement.
Apparently, Crosby forgot about that piece of hockey tradition and didn’t take too kindly to the crowd’s jubilant rejoice.
Instead of planning game-winning strategies with teammates or coaches at the most crucial point in the game for the Penguins (down 4-2 late in the third period) while crew members were cleaning up the hats, Crosby added to his reputation of being a “whiner” to local fans by spending that time pleading with officials to ask the crowd to stop throwing the hats over the glass onto the ice.
Following a hat-trick performance himself, he explained his side of the story to reporters in his post-game press conference.
“People kept throwing hats. I was just asking if he could make an announcement to ask them to stop. I mean, the first wave came and then I think they were all pretty much picked up, and then more started coming,” Crosby said. “So for us, we just wanted to make sure we kept kind of moving and kept the game going, wanted to try to get back in it. So I wasn’t complaining about anything,”
With the series now moving to Pittsburgh for Wednesday and Friday night showdowns, the superstar rivalry everyone has been waiting to see materialize in the postseason will become more interesting. The Capitals have begun this series by immediately defending home ice, something they failed to accomplish in round one, and aren’t in the usual “backs-to-the-wall” situation they were previously in.
Will they play as motivated now that they are in a more comfortable position? That will be determined by the start of the weekend.