The Washington Capitals dominated the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night, pushing the defending Stanley Cup champions to a Game 7 with a decisive 5-2 win.
The Capitals will head into that next one, a home Game 7, trying to become the 29th team in National Hockey League history to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win a best-of-seven playoff series. It's nearly as if the Capitals faced their worst fears while trailing during the third period in Game 5 in Washington, found a way to win that game, and have seized this second life ever since.
The Penguins will get a third and final chance to win the Eastern Conference semifinal in Wednesday's Game 7. The next five overwhelmed Pittsburgh on its home ice to tie the series for the first time since the puck dropped in Game 1. The 22-year-old left winger had been everywhere through the first four games of the series, and had led the Capitals in corsi, but he didn't have even a single point to show for it. And there's no saying that Game 7 will be the last game in this rivalry but last chances and last dances are hard if not impossible to predict. Now, though, credit must be granted to Trotz, who made what could have been seen as a panic move with his team trailing three games to one - dropping Ovechkin, the best player in the franchise's history, to the third line while bumping Burakovsky up to play with Backstrom, even though Burakovsky had done nothing to earn a promotion. We're having fun now.
Through six games, the Capitals have out-shot Pittsburgh 200-134. Despite all their skill, Washington is terrible when it comes to 4-on-4 play. Since then, it has been all Washington, perhaps not entirely unexpected given that the Capitals rolled to the Presidents' Trophy during the season. Every game is monitored by spotters stationed in the league's player safety room in NY. "I think there needs to be some kind of review and there needs to be some kind of punishment for the other team that they're going to feel because they got away with one there and it's too important to get wrong".
Rangers confident: Though his team trails its East series 3-2, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said he believes his team's experience gives it an edge against the Senators, whom NY hosts Tuesday in a do-or-die game for the Rangers.
Game 7 may be the most exciting phrase in sports to a lot of people. Captained by their dominant superstar, Alex Ovechkin, and with a stellar supporting cast that included winger TJ Oshie and goalie Braden Holtby, they looked poised to make team history and go the distance to the Stanley Cup.More news: Le Pen's niece will not seek re-election as French MP
"Our group has pretty good resolve and we've grown through our past", Trotz said. "That's going to be a tough task but I think it's something we have the right guys and the right mentality right now to do that". Crosby was visibly shaken up in both instances but did not miss a shift, lending to criticism of the NHL's policy on concussion spotters. The NHL's spotter was in contact, but because Crosby said he was okay, he was allowed to return to the ice.
Crosby stayed in the game but his frustration was plain. By then the Capitals already had a 1-0 lead on Oshie's fourth of the playoffs.
Crosby then paused on his hands and knees, drew a deep breath and slowly got back onto his feet before skating toward the action.
Oshie hadn't scored since Game 5 of the first round.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan tinkered with his lines after Game 5, reuniting the "HBK" line (Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel) that played an instrumental part in the team's Cup run last spring. He was replaced in the lineup by D Chad Ruhwedel, who made his National Hockey League playoff debut.