Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night at ConsolEnergyCenter:
How it happened: The Penguins grabbed an early lead when a Dmitry Orlov giveaway to Evgeni Malkin led to Jussi Jokinen deflecting a Matt Niskanen shot past Jaroslav Halak for a 1-0 lead with 2:05 remaining in the first period. The Pens dominated play for the first 40 minutes, with a 26-12 advantage in shots, and finished off the Capitals when Sidney Crosby scored with 5:48 remaining in the game on a 2-on-1 with Chris Kunitz.
What it means: The Caps lost all four games to the Penguins this season and have now gone eight straight against the Pens without a win. The Caps are now 1-4-1 in their last six games. As a result the Caps fell three points behind the Flyers for the final wild card spot and one point behind the Red Wings and Devils.
Needing three: The Capitals fell to 0-22-5 when scoring two or fewer goals. They are the only team in the NHL without a win while scoring fewer than three goals. When scoring three or more they’re 30-5-5.
Line juggling: The Capitals started with a top line of Nicklas Backstrom between Marcus Johansson and Alex Ovechkin; Jay Beagle between Dustin Penner and and Troy Brouwer; Eric Fehr between Jason Chimera and Joel Ward; and Casey Wellman between Evgenu Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. That all changed midway through the in the second period when, with the Caps without a shot in the period, Oates shuffled the deck, using Backstrom with Kuznetsov and Ward; Beagle with Johansson and Ovechkin; Fehr with Chimera and Wilson; and Wellman with Penner and Brouwer.
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And while were at it: Assistant coach Calle Johansson also switched up his bottom two defensive pairs, going with Jack Hillen and Mike Green, and Connor Carrick with Dmitry Orlov
Brooks Laich update: Caps LW Brooks Laich went to see a groin specialist in St. Louis on Tuesday. The results of that visit could determine Laich’s availability for the remainder of the season. He has missed 17 games this season with groin issues. Last season he missed all but nine games with the same injury.
What’s next: The Caps have an 11 a.m. practice scheduled for Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. It will be Kuznetsov’s first full practice with the team. They return to game action Friday night at home against the Canucks.