A common misconception is that the number of goals scored in a hockey game correlates highly with the quality of the game. That’s not necessarily true, but in Monday night’s Penguins-Capitals game, which featured a whopping 15 goals, it was very, very correct. This was one of the wildest, most enjoyable games anyone will see this season.
The Capitals headed into Pittsburgh as the league’s hottest team — winners of nine straight — and jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the game. But the Penguins refused to lie down on home ice and proceeded to have a second-period performance for the ages.
The Pens erupted for three straight goals in two minutes and 27 seconds to tie the game in a flash. Then Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin added two more to make it five unanswered for Pittsburgh. With about five minutes left in the second, the Capitals finally managed to stop the bleeding and score two quick goals to tie it up. But then Malkin quickly answered at the other end with his third goal of the period.
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That insane second period featured nine (yes, nine!) total goals. It certainly wasn’t the most technically sound period from either side defensively, but it was an absolutely wild ride and one of the most entertaining 20 minutes of hockey you’ll likely see for a while.
Ultimately, the game needed overtime to decide a winner, because of course it did. Deadlocked at 7-7, Pittsburgh’s Connor Sheary got the game-winner early in the OT period on a wild scramble in front of the Washington net. Sheary got his stick on a loose puck in the crease and somehow managed to jam it home as Capitals netminder Philipp Grubauer was on his butt hoping to freeze the puck under him.
That final goal didn’t come without a bit of controversy, though. Officials reviewed the play and determined that there was no goaltender interference on the sequence, but it appears that they may have missed a trip just moments prior to the goal that would have put the Caps on the power play.
While going for a poke check, Sidney Crosby looked to trip up Alex Ovechkin with both the stick and the body as the Caps winger tried to carry the puck out of the defensive zone.
Though it looks like a clear missed call, here’s the NHL’s rulebook language on tripping:
57.1 Tripping – A player shall not place the stick, knee, foot, arm, hand or elbow in such a manner that causes his opponent to trip or fall. Accidental trips which occur simultaneously with a completed play will not be penalized.
It looks like Crosby got the puck first, so officials may have determined that the play was completed after the poke check and the trip occurred simultaneously. That’s certainly a tough ruling, one that Caps fans probably aren’t thrilled about.