The Washington Capitals had the opportunity to clinch the Metropolitan Division for the third consecutive season on the road on Sunday Night against their arch rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington dominated early and often in a 3-1 win.
T.J. Oshie scored a goal in the first-period for the Capitals, Dmitry Orlov scored a goal in the second-period for the Capitals, and Tom Wilson scored a goal in the third-period for the Capitals. The lone goal for the Penguins was scored by Patric Hornqvist with 3:45 remaining in regulation.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer was spectacular for the Capitals and he made 36 saves. This was one of the most message sending moves head coach Barry Trotz has made for the Washington Capitals this season. In a big time game on the road, it is usually Braden Holtby getting the nod, but Trotz decided to give it to Grubauer instead.
This shows how much confidence Trotz has in Grubauer right now and that there is an actual goaltending dilemma dueling in Washington. Braden Holtby will get the nod tomorrow night against the St. Louis Blues on the road, but it will be interesting who Trotz starts in the final two games of the regular season.
Washington also sent a message to Pittsburgh in how physical they were, even though they over did it a little bit after the whistle. Their style of play tonight frustrated Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin late in the game as he threw T.J. Oshie’s stick onto the Washington Capitals bench and him and Oshie dropped the gloves. Malkin then started barking at Evgeny Kuznetsov and Malkin was then escorted into the locker room.
Speaking of the Penguins, Matt Murray made 31 saves for them. Washington feels like they could finally beat Pittsburgh in a playoff series this season because the Capitals don’t feel the pressure like the past couple of seasons.
The Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins have split the season series at two, but it isn’t out of the question these two rivals will be meeting each other for the third consecutive postseason.