Eric Fehr's double wins Winter Classic for Washington Capitals
Posted on Sunday, January 02, 2011 at 07:54 AM
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The Washington Capitals arrived in Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins this past New Years day to find that the game had been delayed because of rain.
Instead of taking on the home town team during the day the game was moved to that night which only added to the big match atmosphere at Heinz Field.
The Capitals proved that neither the weather delay or the Penguins would bother them much on Saturday night.
The game was played on an ice rink that had patches of water atop it making it difficult to manage the puck , something that would eventually aid the visiting Capitals.
The big matchup of Sidney Crosby vs Alexander Ovechkin never truly materialized early on as the game was a scrappy affair. No skater had time on the puck during the whole of the first period as both teams played physical hockey epitomized by Ovechkin's hit on a Penguin defenseman that broke one of the surrounding barriers.
Once the barrier had been fixed the game resumed and Pittsburgh had to face the first penalty drill of the night. The Penguins came into the game leading the league in Penalty killing and were resolute in their first 2 minute stint of the night. Not only did they prevent any real opportunities for the Capitals to take advantage of their extra man, they had multiple opportunities on the break to score a shorthanded goal.
At the other end Mike Green was penalized for a hold on Sidney Crosby as he broke in on the Capital's net. The replay showed the Crosby should have been given a penalty shot as he was prevented a clear goal scoring opportunity. This turned out to be a huge moment in the game as a goal at this time would have given the Penguins a huge swing in momentum heading into the second period.
Washington then had to face their first penalty kill of the night. They had come into the game with 16 straight penalty periods without conceding but struggled to keep the Penguins off their goalmouth. They survived the period without conceding after Mark Letestu had hit the post.
John Erskine and Mike Rupp had broken out into a fight in the first period which was the only significance of a period that involved more hits than hockey.
The second period was a vast improvement as the Capitals leader Ovechkin began to impose himself on the game.
He quickly broke into the clear for a 1-on-1 match up with Penguins goaltender Fleury. Ovechkin attempted to shift the puck around Fleury before knocking it into the empty net but Fleury sprawled across his goal with a wonderful glove save to keep the scores level.
Fleury was continuously making stops in the Penguin's net and it would eventually punish the Capitals at the other end.
Fleury stopped Ovechkin again with a stick save and the puck rebounded to Evgeni Malkin who took the puck down the ice to score the breakaway goal. Malkin brought the puck right up to the net before flicking it through Semyon Varlamov's legs and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Penguins' concentration levels were not good enough after the goal when the Capitals instantly hit back. Fleury was forced into another great save that resulted in a scramble at the Penguins' goalmouth when Mike Knuble was able to score the tying goal for the Caps.
The puck was under Fleury's body but he did not realize it. He hurriedly looked up to search for the puck only serving to reveal it to Knuble who poked it home through his legs to make it 1-1.
The Caps were now laying seige to the Penguins' goal but Fleury was in brilliant form repeatedly repelling the puck from various positions. Fleury's fast start was about to come to a sudden halt however.
The rain that had been falling since the beginning of the second period appeared to be causing the Penguins much more difficulty than their counterparts in the white jerseys. Fleury slid out from his net to allow a Capitals' player the opportunity at the open net before Brooks Orpik stopped the ball brilliantly at the goal-line.
Fleury's second mistake soon arrived but this time none of his defenders were there to spare his embarrassment.
The Penguins continued to press into the third period but still only managed 9 shots on Varlamov's net during the whole of the third period.
The game was decided by another Fehr goal when he worked the puck with Jason Chimera to scored a breakaway goal past the hapless Fleury in the Penguins net.
Neither Crosby or Ovechkin completely dominated this game in the way that they can but the Capitals certainly dominated the Penguins at the first ever hockey game played in Heinz Field.
The 3-1 victory for the Capitals moves them to 23-12-5 while the Penguins fall to 25-12-3 but remain the team with the best record in the NHL.
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