The Washington Capitals entered their first matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins of the season having won their last three games in a row and sitting in second place in the Metro division with 20 points in 14 games. The Penguins sat in seventh place in the Metro division with 14 points in 13 games.

Of course, the Penguins have dealt with both the injury bug and the COVID…bug, I guess. This game saw the return of Sidney Crosby, Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson, Chad Ruhwedel, and, head coach, Mike Sullivan, after all of them were on the COVID protocol list. This was just Crosby’s second game all season.

The Capitals have dealt with their own injuries all season long to the likes of Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Anthony Mantha and Nic Dowd (who all did not play in this game). Washington had actually re-signed Nic Dowd to a three-year, $3.9million extension earlier in the day.

Vitek Vanecek returned to the net, making him the third different goalie to start for Washington in as many games after Zach Fucale made his debut and Ilya Samsonov won versus Columbus.

The Capitals got the scoring started early on a shorthanded goal from Martin Fehervary. He and Tom Wilson came down on a 2-on-1 and Marty sniped it low and on the short side to make it 1-0 for the Capitals.

Washington would strike again later in the first period, this time it was Garnet Hathaway making it 2-0 on a slick Alex Ovechkin feed. Pretty nice pass considering he can’t pass. This was Hathaway’s fourth point in two games, so it’s nice to see him finding his stride a bit offensively.

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 14: Garnet Hathaway #21 of the Washington Capitals reacts after shooting the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period of the game at Capital One Arena on November 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The Penguins would respond with a little over a minute left in the first period on a Jake Guentzel tally from VERY in-tight to make it 2-1.

The period would end with the Caps leading the shot counter 9-8.

The Capitals would score late into the second period on a phenomenal play between Daniel Sprong and Lars Eller. Eller fed a nice saucer pass which Sprong handled perfectly to snipe it in for his third of the season and to make it 3-1 Caps.

Conor Sheary kept the ball rolling with a goal against his former team to make it 4-1, and score his second goal in as many games. He also contributed with a secondary assist on the Sprong goal.

The period would end with a 4-1 score, and with the Capitals leading the period in shots, 14-9, and the game 23-17.

Evgeny Kuznetsov got back in the goal column early in the third period after the Capitals came out of the gate with some electricity. They were dominating puck possession int he Penguins’ zone, and after Ovi threw a hit and moved the puck out front, Kuzy roofed it and celebrated with the bird man celly after making it 5-1.

Sidney Crosby was frustrated with Kuznetsov after letting the bird out of its cage and took a penalty for cross-checking. Not long after, Kuzy sprung Tom Wilson who scored a beautiful breakaway goal on the ensuing power play to make it 6-1.

The Capitals secured the 6-1 victory in a game they more-or-less dominated since the moment the puck dropped and earn their fourth win in a row. It’s worth noting that Pittsburgh had played the night before and got four players back from COVID protocol, but still, the Caps are a banged-up team and still played solid on both ends of the puck.

Marty Party, in particular, stood out as someone who played a really good game. Of course, Ovi and Kuzy kept their hot offense alive and well with a couple of points for both of them.

Vanecek looked solid stepping back into the lineup and, at least in my opinion, has made his case to be the #1 goalie for Washington so far this season.

Overall, it was a perfect first game against their bitter rivals as the Caps chewed the Penguins up and spit them back out on Capital One ice. Washington heads on the road for the California road trip + their first visit to Seattle.

That means late game times for us on EST, but if you don’t stay up and watch you’re a #FakeFan

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