Cap­i­tals over­whelm Pens 5-2 to force Game 7

Cape Breton Post - - Sports -

An­dre Bu­rakovsky scored twice, Nick­las Back­strom got his sixth of the play­offs and the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals beat the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins 5-2 on Mon­day night to force a Game 7 in their taut Eastern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal.

John Carl­son and T.J. Oshie also scored for the Cap­i­tals. Braden Holtby stopped 16 to send the se­ries back to Wash­ing­ton for the de­cid­ing game on Wed­nes­day night.

Jake Guentzel picked up his play­off-lead­ing ninth goal and Ev­geni Malkin added an­other 52 sec­onds later late in the third pe­riod to make the score look cos­met­i­cally bet­ter, but the Pen­guins were never in it. The Cap­i­tals con­trolled play through­out. Marc-An­dre Fleury fin­ished with 21 saves and re­ceived lit­tle help in front him.

This is the fourth time the Pen­guins and Cap­i­tals will meet in a Game 7. Pitts­burgh has won each of the three pre­vi­ous de­cid­ing games, the last in 2009 in Wash­ing­ton on its way to the Stan­ley Cup.

The Cap­i­tals ap­peared on the verge of an­other un­cer­e­mo­ni­ous exit at the hands of the Pen­guins go­ing into the third pe­riod of Game 5. The Pres­i­dents’ Tro­phy winners re­sponded with a three-goal bar­rage over the fi­nal 20 min­utes that ex­tended their sea­son.

The mo­men­tum car­ried over two days later and 250 miles north­west. Wash­ing­ton sys­tem­at­i­cally dis­man­tled the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­ons, who looked list­less as they strug­gled to gen­er­ate any kind of sus­tained pres­sure.

Pitts­burgh coach Mike Sul­li­van tin­kered with his lines af­ter Game 5, re­unit­ing the “HBK’’ line (Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kes­sel) that played an in­stru­men­tal part in the team’s Cup run last spring. Sul­li­van also moved rookie Guentzel along­side Malkin and put Conor Sheary with Crosby.

Crosby was a non­fac­tor for a sec­ond straight game af­ter sit­ting out Game 4 with a con­cus­sion. He took a nasty spill in the first pe­riod when he was slammed into the end boards head-first while he tan­gled with Carl­son. He re­mained in the game but found lit­tle room to work.

Then again, nei­ther did any of his team­mates as Wash­ing­ton dom­i­nated on both ends of the ice. Pitts­burgh’s first shot in the open­ing 17 min­utes was a 136foot flip by Brian Du­moulin that made its way to Holtby. By then the Cap­i­tals al­ready had a 1-0 lead on Oshie’s shot from the right cir­cle on the power play.

It wasn’t un­like most of the first four games of the se­ries, when Wash­ing­ton would con­trol play for long stretches only to have Pitts­burgh ex­pertly coun­ter­punch on its way to a 3-1 se­ries lead.

This time, there would be no re­sponse by the Pen­guins. Pitts­burgh had trou­ble ex­e­cut­ing even the sim­plest of plays. De­fence­man 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.

Hold­ing two-goal leads in the post-sea­son has been a ten­u­ous propo­si­tion at best, with 13 times teams let­ting them away so far in the post-sea­son.

Yet in­stead of sim­ply try­ing to pro­tect its ad­van­tage, Wash­ing­ton kept press­ing. Back­strom flipped a wrist shot by Fleury 16 sec­onds into the third to make it 3-0 and when Carl­son fired on past Fleury 11:17 into the third, the arena be­gan emp­ty­ing out, per­haps for the last time this sea­son.

NOTES: Pen­guins D Trevor Da­ley did not play af­ter get­ting hit by Wash­ing­ton’s Tom Wilson in Game 5. Chad Ruh­wedel filled in . ... Wash­ing­ton went 2 for 4 on the power play. The Pen­guins were 0 for 3.

AP PHOTO

Pitts­burgh Pen­guins goalie Marc-An­dre Fleury makes a save dur­ing the first pe­riod of Game 6 in an NHL Stan­ley Cup Eastern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal hockey game against the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals in Pitts­burgh, Mon­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.