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Snap Shots: Capitals 6, Penguins 3 (Game 5)

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

 Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 6-3 loss to the Washingon Capitals in Game 5.

* Don't let the score fool you. This was the best the Penguins have played all series. They were as true to their identity as they've been all playoffs. It was the fastest I've seen them play in a long time. They were so noticeable with their speed. Every single player in the lineup was moving their legs and skating with pace, and they created so much because of it. They weren't giving up a whole lot either, as their best defense took place up the ice. I thought they deserved a whole lot better than they got, and they said it's something they can build off of heading into Game 6.

There was no panic in that locker room after the game. They were really happy with the way they played and trust if they bring the same effort on Monday, they'll be in good shape.

 * This morning Mike Sullivan said that hockey is a game of mistakes. The Pens made a couple in the third period that Washington capitalized on for the tying and game-winning goals. The tying tally in particular was the biggest breakdown, and the Caps got a lot of momentum from it. On the play, defensemen Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin both ended up on the same side of the ice, opening up the other side for Evgeny Kuznetsov. He was sprung on a breakaway and tied the game at 3-3. It was the first of four unanswered goals, two of them empty-netters.

 "I think we were both in-between," Dumoulin said. "He got a lot of speed. That's something we've got to sort out. A lot of it we were just in-between. That's when you get caught. You don't want to give that guy time and space like that. It was just a miscommunication and we have to be better there." 

* For most of the series, Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and the winger playing with them - either Patric Hornqvist or Dominik Simon - had been carrying the offense. But tonight, everybody got involved. All four lines were going, which allowed the coaching staff to roll all of them. And while not everybody got on the scoresheet, they were all making plays and creating momentum with lengthy offensive zone shifts.

"I think this was one of the first games were were able to roll all four lines and create chances with all four of our lines," winger Conor Sheary said. "It was obviously good to see. We gave a couple free ones to them at the end there, which is unfortunate, but we thought we played a pretty good game."

* Going off that, tonight was the best Derick Brassard has looked all playoffs. It just looked like everything clicked for him tonight. He set up Jamie Oleksiak for a goal and led the way for his line with Sheary and Tom Kuhnhackl, who was noticeable at both even-strength and the penalty kill. The trio had a number of lengthy offensive-zone shifts where they were holding onto pucks and getting them to the net.

* The Pens' power play is back to being their best weapon. After scoring a huge goal in Game 4, it went 2-for-5 on the night (with one of those opportunities being abbreviated after the Pens took a penalty). And what's so great about it is that even with all of the elite talent on the ice, the Pens are scoring some greasy, garbage goals because they're willing to go to the net. Crosby was at the crease to tip a Phil Kessel shot, while Evgeni Malkin and Hornqvist desperately banged away at a loose puck before getting it past Holtby. I love seeing those guys battle like that.

 * Crosby got on the board with a power-play goal, but Guentzel's point streak was snapped at eight games, where he collected nine goals and 17 points over that span. It was the longest point streak of this postseason and the longest since Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar rattled off a 10-game run in 2014.

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