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NHL Playoffs: Capitals suffocate Penguins with defense, force Game 7

19 Mai 2017

"We're having fun now", Coach Barry Trotz said. "You're going to see their best game, their most desperate game of the series". But Crosby and coach Mike Sullivan said he was checked by a doctor and not put into the NHLs concussion protocol. For them to force Game 7 on Wednesday, they'll need Holtby and the rest of the stars to continue to be the best players on the ice. I think that's up to you guys to understand all that different stuff. And here, against the defending Stanley Cup champions, they responded with all the qualities their predecessors have so frequently ceded to opponents - poise and patience, savvy, a self-assuredness that, frankly, was somewhat unsettling given the name across the front of their sweaters. After winning two games and reaching Game 7 at Verizon Center, however, now there is something to lose.

"I haven't been here forever but, one, I've never been in a Game 7", said Washington forward T.J.

The victor of that series will face the Nashville Predators, who eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues to make their first conference finals appearance in franchise history.

"I've got to believe that (the momentum from Game 6 is) going to roll over, that they're finally sick and exhausted of hearing that they haven't gone to the third round and will break through", Boudreau said.

When it comes to concussion science, experts caution smaller, subsequent blows to the head often do more long-term damage to athletes' brains than the initial injury. But for a backup goalie who was just OK during the regular season, you have to wonder if Fleury is coming back down to earth. Burakovsky's goals Monday were only his second and third of the postseason. That sentence may be true of the first four games of the series, but it was not of the last two.

While the Capitals sniper has been relatively quiet during these playoffs - five goals and eight points in 12 games - it's not from a lack of effort.

The biggest reasons after a 5-2 rout in Game 6 in Pittsburgh? "It might. But we got a little confidence boost out of the last four periods. And if we want to keep playing, we're going to have to be at our best". Burky's a great skater and a really good goal scorer, so he's finding whether it's through the line or whether it's just through him, he's creating space to get his shot off and I think we all know how good that is. Besides the decision to move Alex Ovechkin to the third line, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov have both re-emerged as difference-makers.

The Caps were also a force to be reckoned with when they were outnumbered Monday, killing off penalties easily and blocking pucks left and right as they swarmed a seemingly helpless Pens team.

Zach Kassian and Anton Slepychev also scored and Cam Talbot stopped 34 shots for the Oilers, who led 5-0 after the first period. The Pittsburgh superstar has a history of head injuries, yet he returned to playoff hockey - where the referees swallow their whistles and let "hockey plays" happen with aplomb - to try to win another Stanley Cup.

The concussion spotters have pulled a number of players from games as a result of protocol, but surprisingly chose to leave Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in the game earlier this week following a head-first collision with the boards.

This is the fourth time the two teams will meet in a winner-take-all game.

NHL Playoffs: Capitals suffocate Penguins with defense, force Game 7