Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals in National Hockey League playoffs Game 7

Ruben Ruiz
May 19, 2017

It's not 1992. It's not 1996, 2009 or 2016 for that matter.

After two dominant performances by the Washington Capitals in Games 5 and 6, the Pittsburgh Penguins have now found themselves in a decisive Game 7 against the best team in hockey. In Game 4, the Brian Dumoulin-Ron Hainsey defensive pairing spent nearly 10 minutes at even strength in Game 4 defending against Ovechkin's line.

Fortunately, the Penguins are still the defending champions, and are one of the most resilient clubs in the league.

This is the fourth time the two teams will meet in a winner-take-all.

On Jan. 12 at Canadian Tire Centre, Mike Condon made 29 saves and Bobby Ryan, Tom Pyatt, Hoffman and Stone scored against Murray in a 4-1 win over the Penguins, whose only response came from Conor Sheary. Not that it bothers the Capitals.

Andre Burakovsky scored twice, T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom each had a goal and an assist, and John Carlson also scored for Washington. "Two, I've never been past the second round". They held a three-games-to-one lead over the Washington Capitals and the Caps appeared to be scrambling for answers as they tried to avoid elimination. Some of that is the play in front of him, especially with Pittsburgh defenseman Trevor Daley missing Game 6 with a lower-body injury. "The fun part has been the obstacle".

The Penguins didn't have much to be positive about during Game 6, but Jake Guentzel did pick up his ninth goal of the postseason.

The concern with Crosby comes from the fact he has a long history with concussions and suffered one during Game 3 against the Capitals, which forced him to miss Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal. Four of the team's five goals were in the slot, no higher than the face off dots, pushing the high-danger save percentage of Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury down to.791 in the series.

Will Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby play after clearing concussion protocols after Game 5 only to get drilled into the boards in Game 6?

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None of it worked as Washington pushed the Penguins around. Crosby's headlong crash into the boards Monday night was enough to cause some people to shudder and look away.

He rose slowly to his feet, seemingly disoriented, but remained in the game.

"I felt good", Crosby said. With 53 goals and 147 points in 135 playoff games, this is the time of year when Malkin really shines.

This is the 10th time the Penguins and Capitals have hooked up in the playoffs, with the Penguins winning eight of the previous nine series.

And as bad as all that was, Pittsburgh fans, players and management can take the not-altogether hollow consolation that it could have been worse. "If we keep just pounding pucks. he's going to get exhausted". "You're going to see their best game, their most desperate game of the series". Just 16 seconds into the third, Backstrom kept the puck on a two-on-one - Washington's fifth odd-man rush - and beat Fleury for a 3-0 lead.

"We're having fun now", Coach Barry Trotz said.

What Pittsburgh should not be concerned about is playing in a Game 7.

"At the end of the day they're a different team", said Adam Oates, who coached the Capitals' 5-0 Game 7 loss in 2012. Chad Ruhwedel filled in. The first three rallied Washington from a 2-1 deficit to keep its season alive. "There was the Ovechkin breakaway that Flower stopped and then - bang, bang, bang - it was 3-0".

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