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Playoff Buzz: Game 7 doubleheader

Capitals try to finish series comeback against Penguins; Oilers, Ducks battle for spot in Western Conference Final

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Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. The playoffs continue Wednesday with two Game 7s. NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news, including from the site of the two games. Here is the playoff news for Wednesday:

 

5 p.m.
Game 7 heaven 

The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs concludes with back-to-back Game 7s. 

The Washington Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), followed by the Edmonton Oilers against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). 

The Penguins bring a 5-0 record all-time Game 7s on the road against the Capitals, but they've lost the past two games in this series. NHL.com columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika explains how Pittsburgh is ready to put its Game 7 legacy on the line against its Metropolitan Division rival. In other news, Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is expected to back up Marc-Andre Fleury . Murray skated with teammates on Wednesday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury during warmups before Game 1 of the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Correspondent Katie Brown has the projected lineups in her 5 keys to Game 7

For the fifth straight year, the Ducks will host a Game 7; this time they hope to come away with a win. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who is third in the NHL with 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in the playoffs, has not scored a goal in six career Game 7s (he's 1-5). The last time Ducks goaltender John Gibson started a Game 7 was 2014 against the Los Angeles Kings; he allowed four goals on 18 shots before being pulled in the second period of a 6-2 loss in the Western Conference Second Round.

Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, who had five points (three goals, two assists) in Edmonton's 7-1 win in Game 6 on Sunday, has 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in his past eight playoff games. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid has a point in four of six games in this series. The expected return of defenseman Oscar Klefbom, a late scratch in a 7-1 victory in Game 6, is among correspondent Dan Arritt's five keys to the game.

 

3:44 p.m.
'Mr. Game 7' among those in spotlight for Penguins-Capitals

It's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

So naturally staff writer Tom Gulitti writes about Mr. Game 7, Capitals forward Justin Williams, who has seven goals and seven assists in seven NHL Game 7s, during which he is 7-0.

Columnist Nick Cotsonika writes about the Penguins' memories of winning Game 7 in the same round against the same team in the same building in 2009, and how this game will be a memory however it goes. Cotsonika also has the news that Matt Murray will return from a lower-body injury and back up Marc-Andre Fleury. (link to )

Correspondent Katie Brown has the 5 Keys to Game 7.

 

12:07 p.m.
Early Game 7 storylines

Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) -- The Washington Capitals won 5-2 in Game 6 in Pittsburgh on Monday and will look to advance beyond the second round for the first time since 1998. Since shifting captain Alex Ovechkin to the third line and replacing him with Andre Burakovsky on the top line, Capitals coach Barry Trotz has seen positive results, as staff writer Tom Gulitti reports.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan appears as though he will make a few lineup adjustments to spark his offense, according to correspondent Wes Crosby.

The Penguins have won each of their previous Game 7s against the Capitals (1992, 1995, 2009), including two victories in Washington, and are 5-0 on the road in Game 7s, the best among all major professional sports franchises.

Edmonton Oilers at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports) -- The Ducks are looking to end a five-game losing streak in Game 7s that dates to the 2009 Western Conference Semifinal at the Detroit Red Wings. The Oilers defeated the Ducks 7-1 in Game 6, with Leon Draisaitl scoring three goals and assisting on two others. They are playing their first Game 7 since a 3-1 loss at the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

Correspondent Derek Van Diest reports that the Oilers are not preparing any differently for Game 7 following that dominant performance in Game 6. Staff writer Lisa Dillman writes that Ducks goaltender John Gibson is looking to rebound after allowing three goals on six shots before being pulled from Game 6.

 

11:39 a.m.
Game 7 fact and figures

Here are some interesting Game 7 trends to consider on a big night in hockey.

* Home teams are 97-69 (.584) all-time in Game 7s in the playoffs, including 3-2 in 2016. The team that scores first is 124-42 all-time (.747), including 5-0 in 2016. A total of 40 Game 7s have required overtime (40-of-166, 24.1 percent), with the home and road teams each having 20 wins.

* The Washington Capitals will ice a roster that has skated a total of 76 career Game 7s, with forward Justin Williams 7-0 in winner-take-all games.

* Eight players who skated in the last Game 7 between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 are expected to be in the lineup on Wednesday: Forwards Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins, and defenseman Brooks Orpik (who played for the Penguins at the time) and forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle and Alex Ovechkin for the Capitals. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (injured) also played in their last Game 7 showdown.

* Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic has the most Game 7 experience among all players in the Western Conference Second Round against the Anaheim Ducks. He has six points (four goals, two assists) in 10 Game 7s in his career, all with the Boston Bruins.

* Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry each have played in six Game 7s, second on the Ducks roster behind Patrick Eaves (seven games).

 

11:13 a.m.
Game 7 doubleheader Wednesday

Hockey fans will be treated to a pair of Game 7s to close the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday.

The Washington Capitals look to make it three straight wins against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center in Washington (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The winner will own home-ice advantage against the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Final.

The second game will feature the Edmonton Oilers against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center in Anaheim (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). The winner will have home-ice advantage against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Final.

 

9:28 a.m.
Senators are headed to Eastern Conference Final

The Ottawa Senators became the second team to get past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, defeating the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

Ottawa reached the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2007 and will play either the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins, who play Game 7 of their second-round series at Verizon Center in Washington on Wednesday.

The Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers will play Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round at Honda Center in Anaheim on Wednesday. The winner will play the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Final.

Here's a look at what happened Tuesday:

Ottawa Senators 4, New York Rangers 2

Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson capped a superb series with the game-winning goal at 15:53 of the second period to help Ottawa defeat the Rangers in six games.

Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone scored first-period goals for Ottawa, which scored a combined nine goals in the final two games of the series after scoring a total of two goals in Games 3 and 4 at Madison Square Garden.

Staff writer Amalie Benjamin said the Senators defied the odds in this series thanks to the play of Karlsson, who had seven points (two goals, five assists).

For the Rangers, who lost Games 2 and 5 in overtime after allowing the tying goal late in regulation, this series loss will be tough to get over, according to senior writer Dan Rosen.

Video: Anderson, Karlsson propel Sens to ECF with 4-2 win

 

Here are some things we learned on Day 28 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Craig Anderson had another big-game in him

The Senators goalie has had big games in the past, including a 28 saves in a 3-2 overtime series-clinching win in Game 6 against the Boston Bruins. But on Tuesday he was coming off four straight games in which he allowed an average of 4.0 goals per game. As staff writer Mike G. Morreale writes, he saved his best for the big moment, making 37 saves, including 14 in the third period. The Senators absolutely will need Anderson to stay on his game going into the Eastern Conference Final.

Erik Karlsson, still a machine

At this point it's safe to say that nothing will slow Ottawa's captain this postseason. Not two hairline fractures in his left heel. Not an incredible amount of ice time. Nothing. Karlsson played 28:44 in Game 6, including 6:27 of the final 8:24. He had a shift that lasted 2:30, came off the ice for 53 seconds, and went back on for another 1:42. He then came off for 57 seconds before coming on for another 2:15, a shift that ended only because Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored an empty-net goal. Senators coach Guy Boucher was kind enough to give Karlsson the last seven seconds off.

Rangers' 6-on-5 struggles burn them both ways

Not only could the Rangers not defend in a 6-on-5 situation when Anderson was pulled for an extra skater in Games 2 and 5, they could not score in their own 6-on-5 situation with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist pulled at 18:28 of the third period in Game 6. The Rangers had two offensive-zone faceoffs with the extra attacker on the ice, got the puck off both, and generated one shot on each possession. They had six faceoffs in the offensive zone in the final 3:55 but won three of them. The Senators won 28 of 47 faceoffs in the game.

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