Lovejoy celebrates his goal (Photo: Rob Carr)
Capitals defensemen Dmitry Orlov went for the big hit, hoping to take Penguins center Nick Bonino out at the blue line. Instead, Orlov missed, colliding with Nate Schmidt. Bonino was left with an unfettered path to the net. He shot the puck on Braden Holtby before Ben Lovejoy cleaned up the rebound at the midway point of Game One on Thursday, tying the score at one.
Orlov, who, like Schmidt, is playing in his first postseason in the NHL, didn’t see the ice for the rest of the game, save for a brief 25-second shift early in the third period. He finished with less than six minutes of time on ice.
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz was critical of Orlov’s miscue when I asked him about it after the game.
“I thought it was a pretty basic play,” Trotz said. “It was a one-on-three [in favor of the Caps] and all of sudden they get a breakaway out of it. Mistakes like that can’t happen. It’s done with and we move forward.”
What moving forward means will be interesting. Taylor Chorney has played well this season when called upon (despite an own goal), taking over for Brooks Orpik when the veteran went down in the First Round. Mike Weber might also suit up in place of Orlov, though he is likely too slow to defend against Pittsburgh’s speed. Or the last two sentences could be for naught if Orlov stays in the lineup. The Capitals will hold on optional practice Friday afternoon so it may be tough to predict the defensive pairs for Saturday’s tilt until pregame warmups.
With Orlov benched and the teams playing almost 70 minutes of hockey as the game stretched into overtime, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, and Karl Alzner were forced to skate around 30 minutes or more.
“I think they handled it quite well,” Trotz said of the trio. “They’re all horses when it comes to handling minutes and handling them with poise. They can play any game you want: a heavy game, a physical game, they can play a skillful game. All three of them are really huge for us.”
Update: From press availability today.
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