ShareThis Page
Penguins

Rough night for Penguins, goalie Murray in loss to Caps

Jonathan Bombulie
| Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, 10:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Matt Murray was awakened from a dream start to the 2016-17 season by a CCM to the face.

Not only was the 22-year-old goaltender touched up for a pair of early goals Wednesday night in suffering his first loss of the season, he also took a violent knock to the head from a teammate's stick late in the first period, watching the final 40 minutes of a 7-1 Washington Capitals victory from the bench.

For Murray's teammates, the slap in the face was a figurative one.

Nicklas Backstrom had two goals and three assists as the Capitals broke out of an offensive slump during which they scored a total of five goals in their previous four games.

The Penguins were blown out on the road for the third time this season. They also lost 4-0 at Montreal and 5-1 at Nashville.

“These games are humbling,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “We were embarrassed out there tonight. All of us. It's humbling when you go through it. My hope is that we learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again.”

With 23.7 seconds left in the first period, Karl Alzner took a couple of extra whacks at Murray as he bobbled a puck.

Evgeni Malkin objected to Alzner's behavior and made a beeline for the Capitals defenseman, accidentally knocking off Murray's mask in the process. As a wrestling match broke out behind the net, Malkin's stick swung wildly and clocked Murray in the face.

“He slashed Murray, a hard slash,” Malkin said. “I was trying to take him. I don't know why it's a penalty four minutes for me. It's a dirty play for a defenseman. Of course I'm upset.”

Murray left the ice to be examined per the NHL's concussion protocol, which he said he felt was unnecessary. He quickly was cleared to return and was back on the bench by the start of the second period. Sullivan said he felt leaving Marc-Andre Fleury in for the rest of the game “just made sense.”

“I was just kind of minding my own business, and (Malkin) is just in a bit of a scrum with whoever and he goes to grab him and his stick just swings around,” Murray said. “I wasn't even looking, and it just catches me right in the mouth. Just unfortunate, but I'm fine, so it's easy to laugh off now.”

Fleury entered the game with the Capitals on a power play because Malkin was given a double minor for roughing. The first shot Fleury faced was a John Carlson blast from the top of the left faceoff circle. The puck got through him, and T.J. Oshie cleaned it up for his second goal of the game, giving the Capitals a 3-0 lead.

Fleury was victimized four more times as the Penguins mounted little resistance in the final two periods.

They took six minor penalties in the final 35 minutes of the game, squashing any possible idea of a longshot comeback.

“We could do a lot of things better, I think,” Murray said. “Even after the first period, the game's not over by any means. I think what hurt us was taking too many penalties in the second period.”

Bemoaning the penalties the Penguins took put too fine a point on the loss for Sullivan's taste.

“We played a team that was more competitive than us tonight, and they were better than us tonight,” Sullivan said. “I don't know how else to explain it.

“I'm a strong believer that your mindset going into games is critically important to your ability to have success. Our team, as a group tonight, we weren't ready to play.

“We can search for solutions tactically, but sometimes this game is about will more than it's about skill. It's a competitive league. If you're not ready to play, you're going to get beat.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

The Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom celebrates his goal with teammates against the Penguins during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
The Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom celebrates his goal with teammates against the Penguins during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner tangles with Penguins center Sidney Crosby during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner tangles with Penguins center Sidney Crosby during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin leaps for the puck against Penguins defenseman Kris Letang during the second period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin leaps for the puck against Penguins defenseman Kris Letang during the second period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby skates past the Capitals' Andre Burakovsky during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby skates past the Capitals' Andre Burakovsky during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby looks on against the Capitals during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby looks on against the Capitals during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
The Penguins' Nick Bonino and the Capitals' Andre Burakovsky battle for the puck during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
The Penguins' Nick Bonino and the Capitals' Andre Burakovsky battle for the puck during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin fights for the puck against Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsovduring the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin fights for the puck against Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsovduring the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
The Capitals' T.J. Oshie celebrates his second goal during the first period with teammates against the Penguins on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
The Capitals' T.J. Oshie celebrates his second goal during the first period with teammates against the Penguins on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby shoots the puck in front of the Capitals' Matt Niskanen during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby shoots the puck in front of the Capitals' Matt Niskanen during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray lays on the ice injured against the Capitals during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
Penguins goalie Matt Murray lays on the ice injured against the Capitals during the first period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin skates with the puck past the Penguins' Trevor Daley during the second period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin skates with the puck past the Penguins' Trevor Daley during the second period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov celebrates his goal during the second period as Penguins defenseman Kris Letang skates by Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov celebrates his goal during the second period as Penguins defenseman Kris Letang skates by Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
The Capitals' Dmitry Orlov celebrates after scoring against the Penguins during the second period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
The Capitals' Dmitry Orlov celebrates after scoring against the Penguins during the second period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
The Capitals' Dmitry Orlov collides with the Penguins' Brian Dumoulin after scoring during the second period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
Getty Images
The Capitals' Dmitry Orlov collides with the Penguins' Brian Dumoulin after scoring during the second period Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington.
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me