ShareThis Page
Kevin Gorman’s Take 5: Another classic between Penguins, Capitals |

Kevin Gorman’s Take 5: Another classic between Penguins, Capitals

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Jake Guentzel beats Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby in the first period Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins at center ice before playing the Capitals Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist celebrates Jake Guentzel's goal the Capitals in the second period Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.

That the reigning Stanley Cup champions played in the season opener at PPG Paints Arena is something to which we’ve become accustomed.

The Pittsburgh Penguins raised banners the past two seasons.

This time, the honor belonged to the visitors.

There was nothing ceremonial about the Penguins playing the Washington Capitals, the same team that ended their season last May in this building. The only thing missing was Tom Wilson, the Capitals’ head-hunter who is serving a 20-game suspension.

Not that anyone in Pittsburgh missed him.

But, like their last meeting, this one would go into overtime.

1. Beating the odds

Raise your hand if you had Jamie Oleksiak scoring the Penguins’ first goal of the season.

On a team with three of the NHL’s top-10 scorers, the 6-foot-7, 255-pound defenseman was the first to tally.

Oleksiak had five goals last season, four of them after being traded from the Dallas Stars to the Penguins.

What were the chances?

2. Now that’s just odd

That lead didn’t last long, as Jakub Vrana snuck a rebound from the right slot to tie it at 1-1 at 3:30.

The Capitals took a 2-1 lead 48 seconds later on the most unexpected of developments.

Brooks Orpik scored.

True, he scored the winner against Vegas in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. But regular-season goals are a rarity for Orpik, the definition of a stay-at-home defenseman.

3. High-stakes Jake

Four months off did nothing to slow down Jake Guentzel’s hot hand.

After scoring 10 goals in 12 playoff games, including four in Game 6 at Philadelphia, Guentzel got off to a strong start by twice tying the game.

It was Guentzel’s first two-goal game since, well, Game 4 of the second-round series against the Capitals last spring.

When Guentzel scored the tying goal, the PPG Paints Arena crowd serenaded Holtby in hopes to unnerve him with a Johnny Cueto-like cheer.

And it worked.

4. Brass goal

The arena eruption when Derick Brassard scored the go-ahead goal in the second period was only exceeded by the excitement of the center’s celebration.

Brassard was the Penguins’ big trade-deadline acquisition last season, addressing their need for a third-line center with a player who had been a top-six performer with Ottawa.

He mostly disappointed.

But Brassard was positioned perfectly in the crease on Dominik Simon’s shot from the point and redirected it off Holtby.

If you were thinking what I was thinking, it’s that more goals like that from Brassard in the playoffs could have helped the Penguins beat the Capitals in their second-round series.

But that one was cathartic and a promising sign Brassard’s strong preseason play has carried over.

5. Shots on goal

It wasn’t a good night for the two goalies who have combined to win the past three Stanley Cup titles.

The Capitals scored three goals on their first four shots, so Matt Murray got a Bronx cheer when he stopped the fifth shot.

That seemed to get Murray going, and he stopped one from point blank and made a skate save on a backhand before allowing John Carlson to score on a two-on-one breakaway in the second.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin at [email protected] or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.