Caps Force Game 7, Beat Pens 5-2

Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin backhands a pass with Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby behind him during the period of Game 6 in an NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinal hockey game in Pittsburgh Monday

There are expectations that the Capitals should advance. It's not 1992. It's not 1996, 2009 or 2016 for that matter.

Crosby, 29, incurred a concussion in the first period of Game 3 of the Pens' Eastern Conference semifinal against the Washington Capitals after receiving a slash from Alex Ovechkin and a cross check to the head from Matt Niskanen in quick succession. So, yeah, Crosby was slow to get up. They were knocked out of the playoffs by the Penguins last season. The Penguins are fine with getting outshot so long as they're not outscored. "It's exciting hockey. It's two really good teams". In the three games Pittsburgh has won, the Penguins blocked over 28 shots per game. Not that it bothers the Capitals.

"I think mentally was the biggest reason we weren't achieving what we wanted to achieve", said winger T.J. Oshie, who opened the scoring Monday with his first goal of the series. "Two, I've never been past the second round". "I don't know if I tripped on a stick or someone else".

"At the end of the day they're a different team", said Adam Oates, who coached the Capitals' 5-0 Game 7 loss in 2012.

Then again, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are an odd duck, and a lot of weird things can happen. It is insane seeing a hockey player with a history of concussions returning to a game five days after being diagnosed with a concussion, especially in this day and age where we have a wealth of knowledge regarding head trauma in sports. His coach says he wasn't. "The fun part has been the obstacle". The Capitals controlled play throughout.

Trailing 2-1 and just 20 minutes from elimination in Game 5, the Washington Capitals scored eight straight goals over two games and find themselves with what feels like a commanding 3-3 tie as they prepare to host the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 Wednesday night.

None of it worked as Washington pushed the Penguins around. He remained in the game but found little room to work.

"Yeah, yeah. Pretty standard", Crosby said.

In a race for the puck in front of Braden Holtby, Crosby got swept up in front of John Carlson and Patric Hornqvist. So, much of the next 48 hours in Washington could be filled with angst, because what could be more "Caps" than clawing back from a 3-1 deficit in the series to force a seventh game on home ice - only to lose it?

This time, there would be no response by the Penguins. "Motor incoordination/balance problems", in which the spotter must identify the player stumbling or staggering or having trouble skating. Defenseman Ron Hainsey went to boards to retrieve a loose puck in the Penguins end only to get checked by Burakovsky, who skated away with the puck and stuffed a shot past Fleury 6:36 into the second. "I think they're the better team right now, so hopefully they play that way".

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

The Capitals weren't going to be denied a Game 6, though, not on that night. "And if we want to keep playing, we're going to have to be at our best".

“Ive got to believe that (the momentum from Game 6 is) going to roll over, that theyre finally sick and exhausted of hearing that they havent gone to the third round and will break through, ” Boudreau said. "I think it's more about what we need to do to win the next one".

The Capitals appeared on the verge of another exit at the hands of the Penguins going into the third period of Game 5. Chad Ruhwedel filled in. Backstrom, along the right wall, started a bang-bang play by passing to Kuznetsov below the extended goal line. The Penguins were 0 for 3.

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