T.J. Oshie scores late goal, extends Penguins’ skid to five games
WASHINGTON — Beaten and battered all game long, T.J. Oshie extended the misery of the Pittsburgh Penguins when the game was on the line Wednesday night.
Oshie scored a clutch tiebreaking goal with less than two minutes left, leading the Washington Capitals to a 2-1 victory over the Penguins, who have lost five in a row.
In the first period, Oshie took an unpenalized high-stick from Olli Maatta and went to the locker room for repairs.
In the third period, Oshie took a shoulder to the chin and again had to leave the ice. After he was checked for a concussion and Malkin was assessed a match penalty for a check to the head, Oshie returned and played the hero’s role.
John Carlson took a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and waited at the left point for Oshie to cruise in front of the net. Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith leaned to his right for just a second to look past Alex Ovechkin and Maatta, who were tangled up in front. At that exact moment, Carlson hit Oshie with a perfect pass for the goal from the far post.
“The outcome, that one really hurts because we played so well and (had) so many chances, so many opportunities to go ahead in the third period, second period,” DeSmith said. “We just played so solid tonight.”
Coach Mike Sullivan was uncharacteristically curt in his postgame meeting with reporters. Although he didn’t say so, officiating was likely the target of his silent rage.
On the match penalty, Oshie approached Malkin as the Penguins center entered the offensive zone. Malkin did not change his path, but he delivered a jarring shoulder to Oshie’s chin.
“I think (Oshie) kind of wants the contact there,” winger Carl Hagelin said.
Match penalties automatically are reviewed by the league for supplemental discipline. Sullivan said he didn’t expect Malkin to be suspended, but he offered no other commentary.
“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Sullivan said.
Oshie’s goal aside, it was the best performance the Penguins turned in during their five-game losing streak. That might not sound like a high bar, but a quick look at some stats shows how dominant the losing team actually was.
They held a 42-22 advantage in shots and a massive 70-29 edge in even-strength shot attempts.
When Sidney Crosby was on the ice at even strength, the Penguins outshot the Capitals, 17-2. They were outscored 1-0.
“It’s more encouraging after we played tonight, definitely, but we still came out with nothing,” Crosby said. “It’s still frustrating.”
Crosby scored the Penguins’ goal on a first-period power play.
Jack Johnson grabbed a puck that held been fumbled by the Washington penalty kill and shuffled a cross-ice pass to Crosby at the bottom of the right faceoff circle for a one-timer and a goal.
It was one of eight shots on goal for Crosby in the game. Braden Holtby, the game’s No. 1 star, stopped the other seven.
“We were on our toes. We were physical. We generated some really good chances,” Crosby said. “We’ve just got to put the puck in the net. We’ll do that if we get those chances.”
The biggest problem the Penguins ran into was they took five penalties before Malkin’s hit on Oshie.
Washington scored on its third chance with the man advantage on Ovechkin’s trademark one-timer from the left faceoff circle in the second period.
“When you have to kill that many, especially against that power play, and they do the job they did, it’s frustrating that we don’t get rewarded with at least a point there,” Crosby said.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.