Instant analysis: Penguins 5, Capitals 2

Instant analysis: Penguins 5, Capitals 2
February 7, 2013, 9:30 pm
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PITTSBURGH -- Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 5-2 loss to the Penguins Thursday night at Consol Energy Center:

What happened: The Capitals followed one of their best first periods of the season with their worst second period under Adam Oates, surrendering five goals, three of them on the power play, on 18 shots.

What it means: The Caps remain in last place in the NHL’s overall standings with a 2-8-1 record. The last time the Caps started a season 2-8-1 was in 2003-04. They finished 23-46-10-3, the third worst record in the NHL.

Goalie troubles I: Michal Neuvirth, who entered the game 2-0-2 with a 1.46 GAA in four career starts against Pittburgh,  allowed two goals on 11 shots and was yanked 12:49 into the second period after allowing a Pascal Dupuis shot squirt through his 5-hole. Neuvirth had no chance on Evgeni Malkin’s power-play laser that found the top shelf.

Goalie troubles II: Braden Holtby allowed three goals on the first 12 shots he faced. He had little chance on James Neal’s power-play tuck-in off the rush at the 16:33 mark; never reacted to Matt Cooke’s snap shot off a faceoff win by Brandon Sutter; and had no chance on Sidney Crosby’s mid-air swat on the power play with 22 seconds left in the second period.

Penalty troubles: The Capitals gave the Penguins four straight power plays on penalties to Karl Alzner [holding], Alzner again [interference], Joel Ward [puck over the glass] and Roman Hamrlik [hooking]. Three of those four penalties led to power-play goals.

Ovi watch: Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro each recorded a goal and an assist. Ovechkin’s goal was his third of the season, all on the power play and all from the offensive left circle.

No mask, no problem: When Ribeiro gave the Caps a 1-0 lead 4:12 into the game many, including Ribeiro, wondered why, with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury without his helmet, referees Greg Kimmerly and Stephen Walkom did not blow the play dead. The reason is found in Rule 9.5, where it states: “When a goalie loses mask, play is stopped immediately unless opposing team has possession of the puck, play shall only be stopped if there is no immediate and impending scoring opportunity.” Fleury’s mask was jarred off his head during a crease battle between Caps forward Wojtek Wolski and Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik. The goal was Ribeiro’s 23rd point in 20 career games against Pittsburgh.

Roman return: Defenseman Roman Hamrlik returned to the lineup when Tom Poti was found to have what the team is calling an upper body injury. Hamrlik had sat out seven straight games as a healthy scratch.

What’s next: The Caps are scheduled to practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex at 11 a.m. on Friday. They return to action Saturday night at home against the Florida Panthers.