Capitals top Penguins, force Game 7

Owen Stevens
May 9, 2017

Through the first four games of the series, Fleury had stopped 93.7 per cent of shots, which is bordering on otherworldly. Oshie, who opened the scoring with a first-period power-play goal.

Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead into the third period, but Washington tied it at 2:49 when Backstrom and Burakovsky worked a give-and-go on the rush and Backstrom's wrister beat Marc-Andre Fleury to the far side. Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Friday he wouldn't be surprised if Crosby was back for Game 5.

Ovechkin responded with a superb individual effort to score the Capitals' fourth goal at 7:47 of the third to round out the scoring. With the Capitals down 2-1 going into the third period, the ingredients to the spirited comeback included goaltender Braden Holtby making every save needed for the Capitals' top forwards to break through on the scoreboard. "We're going to have to play really well to beat them", defenseman Matt Niskanen said.

"We need to be smart about opportunities when we get them because you don't get too many against the Penguins and just make plays". "I think we lost some pucks and just the details of the game". Unsurprisingly, those three were put on a line together in Games 3 and 4 when Sidney Crosby left after his concussion. NY has scored first all five games this series.

Fleury kept Pittsburgh in the game with several strong saves, including one he smothered from Alex Ovechkin in the left circle during a power play, a reaching glove save on Carlson and a pad save on Lars Eller from the slot. The Nicklas Backstrom group - playing with T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky - has feasted on the Penguins all series long. Crosby was slow to get up and Hornqvist had to retreat quickly to the bench, but both remained in the game. Next came Evgeny Kuznetsov, forgoing his usual arm-flapping, avian celebration, and instead simply beckoning for more noise from the crowd after whipping the go-ahead goal from an angle sharper than a skate blade.

It's do or die in Washington, and a must-win for a Penguins club looking to avoid Game 7 on the road with the momentum out of their hands.

Before Saturday's game, several Capitals players admitted to feeling "tight", as perhaps the pressure of history repeating itself with another second-round exit had started to weigh on them in this series. He had turned in a sparkling.937 save percentage against the Capitals, stopping 30 or more pucks as the Penguins rushed out to a 3-1 lead. Jake Guentzel leads Pittsburgh with eight goals, Evgeni Malkin has 13 assists and Phil Kessel has 33 shots on goal.

The Penguins, meanwhile, sensed their identity escaped them at times Saturday.

The top two lines have been great for Washington in the playoffs. "Obviously, it's been the question in the media if we can get out of Round 2, if we've got what it takes to go all the way, and I think in times like these, you find out a lot about yourself and you show people ... what you're about".

I still believe the Penguins will win this series.

Ovechkin now has two goals and five points in the series. Losing Daley, whose ice time has been crucial to replacing Letang's, will push the Penguins' depth to its absolute limits as they once again dip into the AHL to find replacements for their battered ranks.

NOTES: Penguins D Trevor Daley did not play after getting hit by Washington's Tom Wilson in Game 5.

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