Pressure still on Caps, but spotlight is on Fleury in Game 6


It was only midway through the final period, with the Penguins slowing after the wear and tear of a Washington blowout, when Fleury's glove couldn't keep the game within three. The Capitals were the best team in the National Hockey League during the regular season but were down 3-1 in their series against the defending Stanley Cup champions. "Early in the series a few breakdowns hurt us and they capitalized on them".

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20), of Denmark, battles for the puck with Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47), of Russian Federation, during the second period of Game 5 in an NHL Stanley Cup hockey first-round playoff series, Friday, April 21, 2017, in Washington.

The Caps gave it all, and while dominating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 6 to force a potentially classic Game 7 between two rivals on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., they left us wondering what the Penguins have left.

It should also be noted that in 2009, the Penguins lost Game 6 to the Capitals in Pittsburgh, then rallied to blow out the Capitals by four goals in Game 7 in Washington.

"We didn't get a lot of zone time", Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said.

Remember what the Capitals' game looked like? As per NBC, that's the most-watched early-round Stanley Cup Playoff game in people meter history, which dates back to 1993. Now, it certainly seems like Washington has the advantage, especially since it has arguably outplayed the Penguins for most of the series.

"We were disappointed after that effort", says Niskanen.

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The Capitals have spent the better part of the season insisting this time, things will be different.

Before Game 5, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said there was no more room for any margin of error and players needed to step up.

Pittsburgh went to Tampa Bay in last year's Eastern Conference final behind 3-2 in the series. They willed in a goal in the second on the individual, playoff-defining effort of Andre Burakovsky, suddenly reborn. Today, Ovechkin's shot on the breakaway that was stopped by Fleury's glove is the indelible image of him in a Game 7 against a rival, not necessarily the three goals he has scored in nine career Game 7s.

Nicklas Backstrom is leading the Capitals with six goals and 13 points, but it has been the depth players doing the most damage lately.

“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. Goaltender John Gibson was pulled from his only Game 7 start in 2014 after allowing four goals on 18 shots, and he's coming off another hook after three goals on six shots in a 7-1 drubbing in Game 6 on Sunday.

The ratings likely won't be quite as high there thanks to the game being on NBCSN rather than NBC (to say nothing of no Derby lead-in), but that should still draw well, especially in comparison to numerous other second-round matchups. "But there might be something to it". We can sit here and I can explain for 10 minutes what concussion protocol is and all that stuff, but I don't really want to do it. The Capitals controlled play throughout. Pittsburgh's offense is a quick strike, counteroffensive team that likes turning mistakes into odd man rushes and their speed makes those counters lethal.

Penguins coach Mike Crosby said afterward that Crosby was not evaluated for a concussion. That is a clear indication of better shot selection from Washington.