The Capitals won 4-1 Sunday in Game 2 to give the teams a split of the first two games in Washington.
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In that game, the Penguins thought a Capitals goal could have been waved off because of what they thought was interference by Brett Connolly on Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray; thought they should have been awarded a goal after a review; and were upset about a hit by Tom Wilson to the head of Pittsburgh’s Brian Dumoulin that knocked the defenseman out of the game and into the NHL’s concussion protocol.
By the end of practice Monday, the Penguins were ready to push ahead.
“It doesn’t do us any good moving forward,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said of holding onto the anger. “That’s the motivation to move on. We did some good things, especially in the second and third (periods) and we’ll build off of that, but worrying about the other stuff isn’t going to help us. We have a lot of good things to take away from that game.”
Dumoulin practiced Monday and is considered a game-time decision in terms of Tuesday’s lineup. He declined to comment on the fact that there was no penalty in the game for the hit and will be no supplemental punishment from the NHL, which did not set a hearing for Wilson.
“The league is a neutral party,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said when asked about Wilson’s hit before the Capitals flew to Pittsburgh on Monday.
“They look at it. Each organization, each fan base will have their own opinions. That’s why there’s a neutral party in this.”
Trotz pronounced his club healthy and ready to dress the same lineup for Game 3.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said Dumoulin and two other prominent players are game-time decisions: center Evgeni Malkin, who was close to returning Sunday from a lower-body injury he suffered in Game 5 in the first round, and winger Carl Hagelin, who sustained a facial injury in Game 6 of the first round. Both practiced Monday, Hagelin with full face and jaw protection.
Regardless of those players’ status, the Capitals are wary of Pittsburgh despite their win Sunday. In Game 1, the Penguins overcame a two-goal deficit with three quick goals in the third period for a 3-2 win.
“We know what they’re about, and we know that they’ve got guys that can hurt you,” Connolly said. “In Game 1, that was tough. We played a really good game, I think, and they just kind of found a way to get some breaks and score some timely goals. I think we learned from that (in Game 2). We weren’t as loose; I think we were a little more solid as the game went on.”
Trotz hopes that carries over.
“You can never take your foot off the gas,” he said.
Washington dominated play early and scored first in both games. The Capitals have potted the first goal in seven of their eight postseason games and are outscoring opponents 10-2 in the first period.
Pittsburgh is bracing for a similar onslaught but hopes to match or top it this time.
“You expect them to come out hard. That’s pretty standard,” Crosby said. “You have to find a way to either counter that or weather it. The first two games, we gave up a goal pretty early to give them some momentum. I think we just need to make sure that we’re on our toes, and that we have that mentality of playing with that same desperation.”