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Aftermath: Capitals 5, Penguins 4 OT

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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It seems fitting that two evenly powered teams full of youth, experience and immense talent would need seven games to decide their playoff series. Every contest has been tight and the most anticipated series of the modern NHL will conclude Wednesday night in Washington in a do-or-die Game 7.

The Penguins played well enough to win in Game 6 – particularly in the first and third periods when they were dominant, outshooting Washington 18-5 and 14-9 respectively – but couldn’t close out the series on home ice.

Pittsburgh had plenty of chances, including Rob Scuderi’s shot that hit the crossbar in overtime and several opportunities on a late third-period power play. The puck just didn’t find its way into the net for the Penguins.

The Penguins will regroup, build on the many positives from the game and lay it all on the line in Game 7. It’s almost become commonplace the way Pittsburgh has responded to adversity all season long. Now they face their biggest challenge of the year. Only one team will still be standing Wednesday night, and the Penguins are determined to be that team.
(AP) - David Steckel scored on a deflection of Brooks Laich's shot and the Washington Capitals finally won an overtime playoff game, beating nemesis Pittsburgh 5-4 on Monday night to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Sidney Crosby netted a late third-period goal to tie the game and force overtime
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Power Play
The Penguins netted back-to-back power-play scores to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead in the third period. Alex Goligoski has filled in admirably for the injured Sergei Gonchar. Goligoski picked up his first career postseason point (an assist) on the go-ahead man-advantage goal. Pittsburgh 2 for 5 with 10 power-play shots and numerous scoring chances.

What Could Have Gone Better: Overtime
The Penguins were inches from winning this series on a Rob Scuderi shot in overtime. The puck hit off the crossbar and the Capitals eventually netted the game-winning tally. Only a few inches made the difference. Despite coming up short, Pittsburgh played well enough to win the contest and will need a similar effort in Game 7. 
Sidney Crosby tallied two points on a goal and an assist. He set up the game’s opening goal with a great pass to Bill Guerin. But it was Crosby’s clutch goal with 4:18 left in regulation that forced the game into overtime. He had a couple great chances late and his relentless effort paid off when he broke through with the late tying goal. Crosby also had six shots. 
The Penguins struck gold early with the game’s opening tally. Kris Letang flipped the puck off the boards and out of the Pittsburgh zone. Chris Kunitz chipped the puck into the neutral zone where a speeding Sidney Crosby collected it. Crosby entered the Washington zone and dropped the puck to Bill Guerin in the high slot. Guerin patiently waited as Capitals goalie Simeon Varlamov slid to his left. Guerin then ripped a shot against the grain over Varlamov’s shoulder and into the top left corner. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 0.

The Capitals evened the game at 1-1 with a score in the second period. Alex Ovechkin gained the Pittsburgh far blue line and hit Viktor Kozlov above the near circle. Kozlov delivered a perfect shot over the left shoulder of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 1.

Washington took its first lead of the game during a delayed penalty call against Pittsburgh. Sergei Federov took a slap shot from above the far circle. The puck deflected off of Crosby’s stick and trickled to Tomas Fleischmann to the left of the net. Fleischmann deposited the puck into the goal past a sprawling Fleury. Washington 2, Pittsburgh 1.

The Penguins tied the game with a power-play goal with 33 seconds left in the second period. Malkin entered the zone down the far side and attempted a cross-crease pass. Washington’s Milan Jurcina blocked the attempt. He grabbed the puck and tried to give it to a teammate but Mark Eaton intercepted that attempt in the high slot. Eaton then threw a shot on goal that eluded Varlamov. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 2.

Pittsburgh regained the lead with another man-advantage score in the third period. Alex Goligoski’s slap shot was deflected into the far corner and then slid into the far faceoff dot. Kris Letang grabbed the puck and lifted a wrist shot into the top right corner of the net. Pittsburgh 3, Washington 2.

In a back-and-forth battle, the Capitals tied the with their own power-play goal. Alexander Semin had the puck at the bottom of the near circle. His shot hit Brooks Laich, who was standing in front of Fleury, and sneaked behind the Penguins netminder for the point. Pittsburgh 3, Washington 3.

Washington reclaimed the lead 29 seconds after tying the contest. Nicklas Backstrom’s shot from the far circle was blocked. The puck caromed off the backboards, out the other side and right to the stick of Kozlov. Kozlov quickly collected the puck and threw it into the twine. Washington 4, Pittsburgh 3.

Crosby came through with a clutch late third-period goal to tie the game with 4:18 left in regulation. Rob Scuderi sent a slap shot on net from the far blue line. Crosby re-directed the initial shot. He then got two rebound chances, burying the last with a backhand shot. Pittsburgh 4, Washington 4.

Washington scored the game-winning overtime goal to even the series at 3-3 and force a seventh game in Washington on Wednesday night. Laich had the puck along the near halfwall. He sent a harmless looking shot towards the net. However, David Steckel re-directed the rising shot towards the ice and over the goal line. Washington 5, Pittsburgh 4.
The Penguins were without the services of All-Star defenseman Sergei Gonchar for the second straight game. Pittsburgh used the same lineup from Game 5, dressing seven defensemen and healthy scratching forwards Pascal Dupuis, Eric Godard and Petr Sykora.

Super Star lines:
Sidney Crosby: 1G, 1A, +1, 23:07 minutes, 6 shots, 1 hit
Alex Ovechkin: 3A, +3, 25:52 minutes, 5 shots, 2 hits
Evgeni Malkin: 3A, 23:53 minutes, 6 shots, won 71 percent faceoffs
Alexander Semin: 2A, +1, 20:59 minutes, 2 shots
> Pittsburgh is tied in its second-round series with Washington, 3-3, and is 4-2 at Mellon Arena in the postseason.

> Head coach Dan Bylsma has a career postseason record of 7-5.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, B.Guerin (4), 5:55 1st period: Penguins 1, Capitals 0
WSH, V.Kozlov (3), 6:27 2nd period: Penguins 1, Capitals 1
WSH, T.Fleischmann (3), 14:42 2nd period: Capitals 2, Penguins 1
PIT, M.Eaton PP (4), 19:26 2nd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 2
PIT, K.Letang PP (2), 4:40 3rd period: Penguins 3, Capitals 2
WSH, B.Laich PP (2), 5:38 3rd period: Penguins 3, Capitals 3
WSH, V.Kozlov (4), 6:07 3rd period: Capitals 4, Penguins 3
PIT, S.Crosby (10), 15:42 3rd period: Penguins 4, Capitals 4
WSH, D.Steckel (3), 6:22 OT: Capitals 5, Penguins 4

> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s Art Ross champion, notched three assists and has 17 points in the postseason (6G-11A).

> Sidney Crosby recorded a goal and an assist and has 18 total postseason points (10G-8A). Crosby has 12 points (8G-4A) in his last seven games and has a point in 10 of 12 playoff games.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 19 saves but lost his first career playoff overtime game. He is now 5-1 in playoff overtime.

> Alex Goligoski notched his first career postseason point (an assist).

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 113th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132. The Penguins sold out every game in the past two seasons. Pittsburgh is 73-31-9 during that span.
1. V.Kozlov, WSH
2. A.Ovechkin, WSH
3. S.Crosby, PIT
“It’s a tough back-and-forth battle and I think we’re better than we
played tonight but we have to prove it and we have to show it.”
- Hal Gill


Author: Sam Kasan

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