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Letang amazing as Penguins even series with Capitals

Daniel Nugent-Bowman
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PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 23: Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Author: The Hockey News

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Letang amazing as Penguins even series with Capitals

Daniel Nugent-Bowman
By:

Defenseman Kris Letang showed how value he is to the Pittsburgh Penguins throughout Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Washington Capitals.

Defenseman Kris Letang showed how value he is to the Pittsburgh Penguins throughout Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Washington Capitals.

With Olli Maatta knocked out of the game 4:13 in thanks to a questionable hit by former Penguin Brooks Orpik, Letang was forced to be a workhorse in the 2-1 win – a win that evened the series. Letang skated for well more than half the game – 35:22 to be exact – as Pittsburgh’s blueline depth was shredded. He played almost 10 minutes more than his regular season average of 26:56, which was fourth highest in the NHL.

With the 29-year-old rearguard patrolling the ice, the Penguins held the Capitals high-powered offense to 24 shots on goal on Saturday, including just 10 through the first two periods. That the Capitals came on during the third can be partially explained by Letang’s short absence. Letang was called for tripping 2:56 into the frame when he knocked Caps right winger Justin Williams off the puck, a call he vehemently disagreed with. Marcus Johansson scored on the power play to tie the game barely a minute later. It was one of only two power plays the Capitals were afforded in the contest.

However, Letang’s penalty didn’t wind up being a turning point in the outcome. Former Capital Eric Fehr tipped in a pass from Evgeni Malkin with 4:28 remaining to restore Pittsburgh’s lead. The goal stood as the winner, Fehr’s second of the post-season. It came moments after Capitals center Mike Richards missed a glorious unfettered chance from the slot.

Winger Carl Hagelin opened the scoring for the Pens, netting a feed in front from center Nick Bonino at 7:08 of the second period. Penguins rookie goaltender Matt Murray was impressive, turning aside 23 of 24 shots. He was benefited by a disallowed goal at 17:58 of the second period, which also resulted in an interference penalty to Caps center Evgeny Kuznetsov. Murray’s counterpart, Vezina Trophy nominee Braden Holtby, made 33 saves.

Holtby’s effort was in defeat. And Letang is largely to blame for that.

In addition to playing more and half an hour, Letang had six shots on goal, made three hits and blocked five attempts from Washington players. He didn’t get any points, but was on the ice for both Penguins goals. That should come as little surprise. It seemed as though Letang didn’t come off the ice.

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Letang amazing as Penguins even series with Capitals