The fact that the Caps even had a chance to win last night's game three against the Pittsburgh Penguins was a minor miracle. If not for Simeon Varlamov's heroic performance, the Caps would have been blown out of the Igloo with so much to think about. And, on top of that, two of the Pens' three goals were the direct result of fortuitous bounces.
That being said, though, the Caps should be ill this morning, swine flu-like even. After a very strong first 10 minutes, the Caps had nearly nothing in the tank for the final 50 in the 3-2 OT loss. They took bad penalties, were sluggish, didn't play with any heart and, quite frankly, shouldn't have been even in the game. It's not time to panic, but it might be close.
"Well, [the Penguins] played great. They were going on all cylinders and we were watching them skate," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "As far as penalties go, I hope I never hear them complain about penalties again, picks, and everything else. I think we might have deserved the penalties, but they sure as hell deserved a few more than they got."
The Pens' first goal was a gift off the stick of Milan Jurcina, who needs to learn how to block passes away from the goal instead of right back to the shooter. The third goal was a gift from Shaone Morrisonn, who probably should have slid instead of trying to block Kris Letang's GWG while upright. The second goal, by Evgeni Malkin, was a thing of beauty I admit -- but by then the Caps already had taken way too many penalties.
Malkin was the best non-goalie on the ice by far. This confirmed what has been known for a while: as Malkin goes, so goes Pittsburgh. The Pens also did a better job of neutralizing the Caps' dominant energy line of Dave Steckel, Brooks Laich and Matt Bradley.
The only good news? The Caps still are up 2-1 in the series and, if they can somehow correct their ills, could close it out this weekend with back-to-back wins Friday in Pittsburgh and Saturday at Verizon Center. A game four loss would give the Pens all the momentum going into what would amount to a best two-out-of-three.
The same cannot be said for the Boston Bruins, who lost by a 3-2 OT count last night in Carolina.
The Caps won't practice today but will have a meeting and media availability. The loss should stew with them all day, steam tomorrow and then energize them for game four. If it doesn't, then all the good gained in the first two home wins will be lost faster than Varly can make another breathtaking save.