- There will be a Game 7. The Caps easily skated past the Penguins on Monday, setting the stage for an epic series conclusion.
Down 3-2 in the series, the Washington Capitals needed a win in Pittsburgh to keep their season alive.
The home crowd arrived in anticipation of a celebratory atmosphere, but any enthusiasm quickly fizzled as the Caps defeated the Penguins 5-2 at PPG Paints Arena.
It was a thorough domination from start to finish. T.J Oshie got the ball rolling, converting on a tic-tac-toe passing play with the man-advantage to put the Capitals ahead 1-0 at the 12:41 mark of the first period.
Sidney Crosby, who had been out with a concussion during this series, took a nasty headfirst spill into the boards, but was nonetheless back on the ice for the second period.
Just over six minutes in, Andre Burakovsky darted in on Marc-Andre Fleury and willed the puck across the goal line to double the lead for Washington. At around the midway point of the period, the shots were 15-5 in favor of the Capitals, though events on the ice made the Pens’ situation appear even more dire.
Nicklas Backstrom, who’d assisted on Oshie’s goal in the first period, extended the Caps’ lead to 3-0 just 16 seconds into the third period, beating Fleury with a perfect wrist shot. Later, defenseman John Carlson, who played 22:49 in the hockey game, launched a rocket from the blue line for another power play goal to put Washington ahead 4-0.
Shortly thereafter, it was Burakovsky again on a breakway, pulling up to evade a diving Pittsburgh defender and then letting a wrister go that beat Fleury to make it 5-0.
The Penguins, to their credit, didn’t go down without a fight. Crosby forced a turnover and then found Jake Guentzel in front to cut Washington’s lead to 5-1. It was Guentzel’s playoff-leading ninth goal and Crosby’s 97th-career postseason assist, a new Penguins record.
Evgeni Malkin then pulled the Pens to within three, but it was too little, too late. The Capitals took the game by a final score of 5-2.
Game 7 is on Wednesday at Verizon Center in Washington.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Andre Burakovsky calmly navigates the terrain with a gorgeous deke to score for Washington in the third period.
3. Nicklas Backstrom (Capitals) – Notched a goal and an assist, registering the tally that arguably made the biggest difference by reinforcing his team’s dominance early in the third period.
2. TJ Oshie (Capitals) – Scored the power play goal that propelled the Capitals’ offense in the hockey game and also assisted on Backstrom’s third period goal.
1. Andre Burakovsky (Capitals) – Two huge goals for a team that needed them tonight. He was the best player on the ice for either team.