In recent seasons for the NHL, the Eastern Conference has boasted some of the top teams in the league. Two of those teams—the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals—feature some of the most talented players in the game today, as well as a healthy rivalry. The Penguins sport Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, along with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, while the Capitals are bolstered by European stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Washington has proven to be a tried-and-true regular season powerhouse, but their quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup has been unfulfilled while the Penguins have played for and won the most hallowed trophy in the sport multiple times in the last decade.
Though each team is amongst the elite in NHL 12, I opted to control the Washington Capitals in today’s match-up for STAT BOX STORIES.
It did not take long for me to get on the scoreboard in this game; under a minute into the first period, a shot from Nicklas Backstrom deflected off of the blocker of Marc-Andre Fleury and found its way into the back of the net for an early 1-0 lead. In the first period, the shots were close, though Washington held a slim 8-6 advantage. Despite the quick start to scoring, the remainder of the opening period passed by fairly uneventfully.
Just over halfway through the second period, the first penalty of the game was taken by Jeff Schultz of the Capitals for elbowing. I managed to clear my defensive zone often enough to kill the penalty time and just a few minutes later, Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins took Pittsburgh’s first penalty of the game for tripping. Just four seconds into the power play, defenseman Dennis Wideman took a shot from the point and the puck found its way through traffic in front of the net for a power-play goal and a 2-0 Capitals lead.
With only 13 seconds remaining in the middle frame, John Carlson—another Capitals defenseman—stepped up from the point and buried a slap shot past Fleury again to take a late 3-0 lead going into the second intermission. Nearly nine minutes into the final period, a tripping penalty against the Penguins led to fisticuffs between Alexander Semin and Brooks Orpik, with Semin prevailing in the battle which resulted in matching major penalties. This time, the Capitals power play only had to work for 24 seconds before Dennis Wideman managed his second power-play goal of the game to make the lead an unreachable 4-0 over the Penguins and end the scoring for this Eastern Conference clash.
At the end of the game, a number of team statistics slanted in favor of the victorious Washington team. The Capitals held a 24-16 shots advantage, and they proved more physical with a 19-14 advantage in hits. Washington also spent two minutes and 50 seconds more time on the attack, despite only being on the power play for 28 seconds of the game over two separate penalties. The only team statistics which the Penguins could claim a lead in was passing percentage, which ended up not having much bearing on the game given the final result. The low 68% passing result for my Capitals was certainly a reminder of work that needs to be done in keeping control of the puck, however.
The 3 Stars of the Game were a fairly easy decision, with Dennis Wideman leading the way with his two power-play goals on the game. Nicklas Backstrom’s goal and assist put him in the #2 slot, while Tomas Vokoun’s 16-save shutout allowed him to wrap up the third and final position. After achieving my first shutout in NHL 12 for STAT BOX STORIES last week, I was definitely surprised—and relieved—to once again put up a low, round number in the goals against column for the second week in a row.
With today’s win in NHL 12, the week in STAT BOX STORIES is off to a 3-0 start across NCAA Football 12, Madden NFL 12, and NHL 12; tomorrow, we’ll see if another 4-0 week can be achieved when I fire up FIFA 12 and set up a rematch of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final from Germany. That showdown saw Italy and France needing extra time and eventually penalties to determine the best squad in the world; as well as one of the more infamous head-butts from any sporting event in recent memory. Can I take control of the French national team and rewrite history five years later? Be sure to come back tomorrow and find out!