National Hockey League playoffs: Capitals force seventh game

Hazel Gray
May 22, 2017

In the Washington net, Braden Holtby was off of his game as the Penguins were opportunistic and capitalized on the chances the Capitals presented them.

Rangers forward Jesper Fast said: "We have no time to waste right now". The Capitals, then, stood on the precipice.

Beating the Penguins emphatically 5-2 in Game 6 in Pittsburgh is why Boudreau believes the Capitals will win Game 7. They're not just comfortable but able to take a lead - and build on it.

Andre Burakovsky scored twice, T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom each had a goal and an assist, and John Carlson also scored for Washington. "Even in the Toronto series, and then a couple games in this series, mentally we weren't able to stay focused".

"I don't know if there is any hump to get over", Trotz said of Game 7.

For his part, Crosby told an interviewer after the game that he had been checked after the first period. They ground out a goal in the first on a hard-earned power play - a penalty Ovechkin set up with a pass to new linemate Tom Wilson, who drew the call on, of all people, Sidney Crosby. They were knocked out of the playoffs by the Penguins last season.

"We're going to see, for the first time in this series, that Pittsburgh has their back against the wall as well", says Caps coach Barry Trotz.

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What a role reversal.

By Tuesday the reunion was already in the rearview mirror, with all three players on separate lines during a brief by spirited practice. Their last Game 7 victory at home came in the first round in 2009 with Boudreau behind the bench when Sergei Fedorov scored the OT victor to knock off the Rangers. "Two, I've never been past the second round".

Sidney Crosby and head coach Mike Sullivan are hoping to lead the Penguins in a win tonight in Game 7 of Pittsburgh and Washington's Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Crosby had been diagnosed with a concussion seven days earlier - at least the fourth of his career - that forced him to miss Game 4 and caused many to scrutinize whether the NHL's preeminent figure should ease back into the series to ensure full recovery. "We were down 3-2 (in the series)".

Andre Burakovsky has an on-ice shot attempt differential of plus-14 at even-strength over the past two games, scoring two goals with an assist.

None of this guarantees anything about Wednesday night, of course. More importantly, they limited Pittsburgh's counter attack game until permitting a pair of four-on-four goals in the game's waning minutes. And the Pens' frustrations with Washington's physicality - and not necessarily the "dirty" kind - revealed themselves late, symbolized by a retaliatory Matt Cullen slash that preceded two quick insurance goals by the Caps. The first three rallied Washington from a 2-1 deficit to keep its season alive. He shows up for every big moment. Is this version any different? "It gives us a little bit more confidence". "We just kept going". They just want to win. Intent on not repeating history yet again, the Capitals jumped on the defending Stanley Cup champions early and didn't relent until the things were well in hand and a once raucous arena was largely empty. The people of Washington don't know what a Stanley Cup victor looks like from short range, not even close.

That's concerning. But maybe more concerning than that was the fact that, after the game, stories didn't line up. The offense tends to fizzle out quickly on the rare occasion they do get into the offensive zone. For once, they have to do it.

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