Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Capitals star Ovechkin played injured

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) and right wing Patric Hornqvist (72), from Sweden, celebrate with center Nick Bonino (13) after Hornqvist's goal during the third period of Game 7 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinal against the Washington Capitals, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Washington.

Senators coach Guy Boucher deflected away a pre-game question about the injuries to the Penguins defence - "They didn't seem very vulnerable to me (against Washington), to be honest", he said - but the playoffs are an incredibly tough grind for the most seasoned of performers.

Ottawa Senators' Dion Phaneuf (2) checks Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) in the crease during the first period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs, Saturday, May 13, 2017, . National Hockey League teams are not required to disclose injury details, typically referring to them only as upper- or lower-body problems, which made Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson's admission of playing with two hairline fractures in one of his feet so stunning as it came while the Senators were still playing.

"Obviously, it's not working", Backstrom said Friday on another somber exit day. "That's all I'm trying to do". At the other end of the spectrum, Ron Hainsey, 36, has been pushed to play far more than expected when acquired in a trade-deadline deal. The Capitals will have around $23 million in cap room, but have four younger players - Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov and Andre Burakovsky - who are in line for raises. Some players play with broken hand, broken leg.

Coach Barry Trotz said the window hasn't closed on the Capitals after three consecutive second-round exits. A year ago they didn't even make the playoffs.

That's hard to imagine unless MacLellan can work some magic. "You can see why they have a pedigree of a Stanley Cup champion".

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With that mission unaccomplished, what MacLellan does next - especially with top players - is anyone's guess.

"Without goals, you can't win the game", said Ovechkin, who played the seventh-most of any Capitals forward at 18:22 and was on the ice for each goal.

This was the Fleury who backstopped the Penguins to the Cup in 2009 and was nearly unbeatable early in the second-round series, and his return was all they needed to eliminate the Presidents' Trophy winners in a meeting of the NHL's top two teams. "I don't know if minor cosmetic changes are going to change anything, really". "Everything that he's gone through and the attitude that he continues to have and had all year, I think, was really important". Talent-wise and our potential is clearly there.

He added: "We can't say, 'Okay, this guy played bad or that guy played bad, this guy can be much better.' We all together. When you lose the right to keep playing, when you're in the playoffs and you feel that you can be a team that can do some damage, it always is a bitter pill to swallow". They surrendered tying goals when the Senators pulled their goaltender in two games.

Trotz said the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs can be millimeters, but the Capitals somehow ended up on the wrong end of it again.

Ovechkin said after that game he was not anxious about his knee and "just needed a little break". It also lifted Malkin past Jaromir Jagr into third place on Pittsburgh's all-time playoff points list with 148. "It's time take a deep breath, take some time off and get back to work". "We just need to get back to playing our game".

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