Skip to Main Content

5 Reasons: Why Capitals were eliminated

Goaltending, missed opportunities among reasons Washington lost to Penguins in second round

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- For the second straight year, the Washington Capitals were eliminated from the Eastern Conference Second Round by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Capitals forced a Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, but lost 2-0 on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh is headed to its second consecutive Eastern Conference Final; Washington's last appearance there was 1998.

Here are 5 reasons the Capitals were eliminated:


1. Goaltending

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby was good, but Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was better. Fleury made 29 saves in the shutout win in Game 7, including an outstanding stop with the shaft of his stick on a one-timer by Alex Ovechkin from the inside of the left circle at 16:07 of the second period with the Penguins leading 1-0.

Fleury had a .921 save percentage during the series. Holtby, last season's Vezina Trophy winner and a finalist this season, finished at .887. He was pulled to start the third period in a 6-2 loss in Game 2 after allowing three goals on 14 shots. He allowed at least two goals in all seven games.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm7: Holtby stifles Malkin's strong chance


2. Missed opportunities

When Penguins center Sidney Crosby sat out Game 4 because of a concussion, the Capitals had a chance to tie the series 2-2 before going back to Washington for Game 5. Instead, they fell behind 2-0 and lost 3-2. Other missed chances, like open nets and loose rebounds, haunted Washington, especially in Game 7. Forward T.J. Oshie missed an open net, forward Daniel Winnik couldn't convert on a breakaway and the power play went 0-for-2.


3. Ineffective power play

The Capitals have consistently had one of the top power plays during the regular season, and 2016-17 was no exception; they were fourth at 23.1 percent. Ovechkin scored 17 of his 33 goals on the power play, tied with forwards Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the most in the NHL. While the power play finished 5-for-23 in the second round, it was a non-factor in the final four games of the series, going 2-for-13; the two goals came in Game 6. Ovechkin had two power-play assists in the series.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Fleury stands strong to deny Ovechkin


4. Secondary scoring

Ovechkin was moved to the third line for Game 5 in an effort to spread the scoring out, but the bottom-six forwards, who were assembled specifically to be able to compete with the Penguins, didn't score a goal in the series. Forward Andre Burakovsky broke out in Games 5 and 6 and scored three goals, but that was after he had been moved into Ovechkin's spot on the top line. Third-line center Lars Eller had three assists in seven games, but the rest of the depth players were kept off the scoresheet.


5. Not enough desperation

The Capitals outplayed the Penguins during most of the series. They outshot them in all but five periods in the seven games. But in the third period of Game 7, with their season on the line and trailing 1-0, the Capitals came out flat and were outshot 11-6 in what should have been a desperate effort to save their season.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm7: Fleury shuts down Eller in close

View More

The NHL has updated its Privacy Policy effective January 16, 2020. We encourage you to review it carefully.

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.