"Both teams gotta win a hockey game".
The Capitals have played a smart brand of hockey, completely removing the odd-man rushes the other way. The problem is, at least in this series, the Penguins' offense has seemingly become dependent on those counters. Washington has to overcome their greatest adversary to advance to the next round. They've controlled the puck, been more patient and made timely adjustments.
Pittsburgh should spend minimal time going over Game 6, but they should address a few key issues. Oshie, who opened the scoring with a first-period power-play goal. Backstrom, along the right wall, started a bang-bang play by passing to Kuznetsov below the extended goal line. The goals they scored were good goals. The 29-year-old has missed 115 games due to concussion-related issues.
If Pittsburgh is to win tonight, Fleury will probably have to be the best player on the ice. A three-time Cup victor, Williams is 7-0 with seven goals and seven assists in seven chances in Game 7. That sentence may be true of the first four games of the series, but it was not of the last two.
In the third period, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetzov and Ovechkin scored, while Braden Holtby stopped all 12 of the Penguins shot attempts. But consider the intricacies of this series, the factors that set up Game 7.More news: Brad Grey, former Paramount Pictures CEO, dies at 59
He was the much hotter goaltender than reigning Vezina Trophy victor and again finalist Braden Holtby, who outdueled him in an emotional Game 5 as the Capitals avoided elimination.
The shot disparity between the two teams has been a topic of conversation throughout. The Senators lead that series 3-2 going into Game 6 on Tuesday.
"Some of the things that we're trying to do are starting to have an effect", coach Barry Trotz said on a conference call Sunday. "So you've got to adapt and work your way through it and make sure that you're dictating it as much as possible". One of the major factors in Washington's turnaround to this point has been better shot selection.
It goes without saying, but the Penguins (or any hockey team for that matter) can not win without shooting the puck. With all the pressure now the Penguins, the Caps are well-positioned to do it. "The shot (count) is an indication of that". They are being more selective, more patient and getting better quality shots. The Capitals have come back from 3-1, but they're still the team with the best regular-season record. A victory in Game 5 or at home in Game 6 would've ended the series. With experience, you can see things evolving a little quicker, you can focus on the right things, you can play with confidence because you've been through it before.
"That was one of those moments where we could have just wilted - even in Game 5 we could have easily just packed it in - and said, 'Man, this ain't going well.' But we just kept playing and kept playing, and here we are".
Game 5 (7:11-10 p.m. ET), in which the Capitals staved off elimination by coming back to beat the Penguins 4-2 at home, delivered a Total Audience Delivery average of 4.365 million viewers, making it the most-watched early-round Stanley Cup Playoff game in People Meter history (1993), as well as the second-most watched non-Stanley Cup Final game in 24 years, behind only the Chicago-Anaheim Western Conference Final Game 7 in 2015 (4.636 million). They need to stay loose, stay aggressive and not play tentatively.