Washington Capitals Finally Defeat Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-1

Photo Credit: Associated Press

The 2021 season has certainly been a roller coaster worth of emotions for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have been able to dig deep and claw out wins they probably shouldn't have as well as find a way to lose games they were in control of.

There was no real comeback bid against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, as a late Zach Aston-Reese goal kept Pittsburgh from falling completely quiet.

The win snapped a four game losing for the Capitals, as well as their first victory against their rivals this season.

Former Penguins Conor Sheary opened up the scoring in the second period, with Jakob Vrana and Lars Eller following up before Aston-Reese put Pittsburgh on the board.

Tristan Jarry Was Better, Still Work To Do

He had some puck luck go his way in the first period, a frame that he faced 15 shots in total but still got out unscathed. Jarry was a little out of position at times but he made the extra save Tuesday night in situations that he wasn't earlier in the season.

Against Sheary, he was a little too deep in his net, but give the forward credit for finding the space in the middle of three defenders to get that kind of shot off.

The other two goals were cross ice feeds that could have certainly seen better play in front of him to prevent them from getting through.

Jarry, who is among the worst in the league in high-danger areas, stopped 7-of-8 in the prime location and saved 39 shots overall in the game.

If the Penguins are going to want to make the playoffs they are going to need to start seeing the All-Star version of Jarry as opposed to what we have seen late last season and early this year. I do think this was certainly one of his better performances of the season, despite the results. 

Capitals 3 - Penguins 1: By The Numbers

- There were nine high-danger opportunities at 5v5 in the game, all of which were by the Capitals. That'd be an interesting thing to go back and look back when the last time that happened - over the course of an entire game. 

Photo Courtesy of Natural Stat Trick

Washington did a great job at keeping the Penguins to the outside and not allow them to get in towards goaltender Vitek Vanecek, and it helped set the tone in their victory.

- That also led to Washington to finish with 69.34% of the expected goals while at 5v5.

- Guess who led the Penguins in ice-time at 5v5? Mike Matheson who is starting to emerge has every bit of the offensive-minded defender they thought they were getting in the Patric Hornqvist trade.

Matheson finished with 18:13 of playing time at 5v5, and while his expected goal share wasn't great (not many were), the former Boston College Eagle controlled 63.33% of shot-attempts while he was on the ice.

It wasn't the best of effort on the Vrana goal, as he was kind of stuck in no man's land on a cross ice pass and couldn't break up the play or tie up the shooter.

It's going to be interesting when the team gets fully healthy, as there are going to be some tough decisions as to who plays with who, and who even gets into the lineup altogether. 

There is certainly a case to leave the pairing of Matheson and John Marino together for an extended period of time. 

When the pair were together, they controlled 64% of the shot-attempts, 60% of the unblocked attempts, and even finished in the positive (54.55%) in scoring chances. All while playing 15:28 together and NOT getting scored on while on the ice at the same time.

While they both have had their struggles individually this season, they have looked good as a pair since Matheson has returned.

Was that the worse game of the season for the Penguins? What needs to be done to turn things around? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link above and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.

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