Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Trotz, Capitals expect desperate Penguins for Game 7

Andre Burakovsky scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom got his sixth goal of the playoffs and the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 on Monday night to force a Game 7 in their tight NHL Eastern Conference semifinal.

Washington also won Game 6 of that series on the road (by a similar score of 5-3) before winning, 2-1, at home in Game 7.

The Pittsburgh Penguins had an opportunity to close out their second round series against the Washington Capitals on Saturday, but unfortunately they let it slip away. However, the Capitals won Game 5, 4-2 and crushed the Penguins 5-2 in Game 6 in Pittsburgh. He was the much hotter goaltender than reigning Vezina Trophy victor and again finalist Braden Holtby, who outdueled him in an emotional Game 5 as the Capitals avoided elimination.

Craig Anderson worked in only one of the half dozen games and he was chased by the Penguins after nearly 53 minutes of one encounter, giving up seven goals on 43 shots in the eventual 8-5 loss on December 5 at PPG Paints Arena.

Trotz has been saying since early in the series that the Capitals liked how they were playing, and now they finally getting rewarded for their play.

The momentum carried over two days later.

"They're Stanley Cup champions for a reason".

Pittsburgh Coach Mike Sullivan tinkered with his lines after Game 5, reuniting Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel, who played an instrumental part in the team's Cup run last spring. Sullivan also moved rookie Guentzel alongside Malkin and put Conor Sheary with Sidney Crosby.

Crosby slid into the boards exactly one week after he was knocked out of Game 3 by a blow the head from the Capitals' Matt Niskanen.

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

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Then again, neither did any of his teammates as Washington dominated on both ends of the ice. By then the Capitals already had a 1-0 lead on Oshie's shot from the right circle on the power play. Goaltender John Gibson was pulled from his only Game 7 start in 2014 after allowing four goals on 18 shots, and he's coming off another hook after three goals on six shots in a 7-1 drubbing in Game 6 on Sunday.

This time, there would be no response by the Penguins. Even if he's an MVP-caliber player with a history of concussions.

Yet instead of simply trying to protect its advantage, Washington kept pressing.

Less ideal? The Penguins and Crosby not being on the same page or at least not being on the same page of what they're telling people.

Prior to the start of the 2016-17 season, the National Hockey League instituted a new concussion protocol, as first reported by Elliotte Friedman.

Goalie Pekka Rinne made 23 saves and had an assist. The Shattenkirk-Schmidt pairing is the complete opposite: three goals for and none against in 46 minutes with a 9-to-1 scoring chance differential against Pittsburgh.

The Caps have thrived on adversity throughout the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, and they've played some of their best hockey of the postseason in these last two games while their backs were to the wall and they were staring down the prospect of elimination.

Rickard Rakell scored midway through the second period for Anaheim.

On a night when the Penguins needed to come out and control play in the offensive zone, they failed to register a shot in the first half of the period, finished the period with only three shots on net total and of those three, two were pucks launched from the blue line that happened to be on net.

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