Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
Nick Bonino delivered the Heimlich Maneuver when he scored six minutes into overtime for the Penguins, eliminating the Capitals in six games in their best-of-seven series with a head-spinning 4-3 win at a Consol Energy Center that was both bonkers and manic in the same game.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are now halfway home. They’ve checked off eight boxes on the shirts they wear underneath their equipment that say ‘Just Win.’ Eight to go.
“I really think they’ve got a shot at it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.
When this grueling journey began 30 days ago, Trotz felt the same about his team. He handicapped that there are maybe 10 heavyweights in the NHL who have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup in any given year.
“I thought we were going to be one of them,” Trotz said.
Instead, Pittsburgh will host Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final beginning this weekend for the right to play for Lord Stanley’s mug. And the Capitals squandered their fifth 100-point regular season in the last seven years alone.
Game highlights are below...
from Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog at the Washington Post,
Now remember all the ways this team had distinguished itself in the regular season. Instead of question marks in goal, Washington had a Vezina Trophy frontrunner. Instead of uninspiring fill-ins centering the second line, Washington had a brilliant all-star. Instead of kids, there were veteran leaders everywhere. And instead of defensive holes, Washington’s blue line was deep and sturdy.
All those pillars trembled in the playoffs. Holtby tied the NHL’s mark for regular season wins, but Penguins kid goalie Matt Murray matched him in this series. Evgeny Kuznetsov became the first player other than Nicklas Backstrom or Alex Ovechkin to lead Washington in scoring in more than a decade; he had only two points in 12 postseason games. The veteran leaders sometimes stumbled; Williams led Washington in postseason penalty minutes, while Brooks Orpik got himself suspended for three games. As for the blue line, with Orpik out, the depth included Nate Schmidt and Mike Weber, who were each victimized on crucial goals.
And so what will be remembered was no Tuesday’s frantic comeback, but the result. Look, this isn’t a historical failure, and it won’t be as haunting as that 2010 loss to Montreal. The Penguins have 22 wins in their past 27 games, and will be favored to reach the Stanley Cup finals. But this was Washington’s best and most balanced regular season team, certainly of the Ovechkin era and maybe in franchise history. It was a team built for the postseason, with a blend of scoring, defense, leadership and depth. It had, as Jason Chimera said Tuesday, “that special feeling all year.”
It was special because it felt different. Thanks largely to a few inexplicable blips — those stretches of alarmingly poor play — the ending is the same. Now the Caps have 11 months to try to do something different yet again.
The Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 in OT tonight to win the series 4-2.
GIFs of tonight's goals can be viewed in the game post.
The Capitals tied the game...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to finish off the Washington Capitals in Game 6 on Tuesday night here at Consol Energy Center, but the visiting team has thoughts of bringing this series back home for seven.
Here’s what to watch for in Game 6, which begins at 8 p.m. ET:
The Capitals were able to keep their top line of Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie mostly away from Sidney Crosby in Game 5 because they had last line change. They won’t have it Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Kuznetsov says he’s ready for the challenge if he does indeed find Crosby across from him.
"I would like to make a funny answer but it’s not the time for jokes right now,’’ said Kuznetsov with a smile when asked about the Crosby matchup. "If we play our game, it doesn’t matter against who we play. All four of their centermen are pretty good. Somebody thinks Matt Cullen is a fourth-line center, but he’s got lots of goals, he’s played pretty well. So we just have to play our game. Today, we don’t have to look against who we play.’’
Having the last line change is an opportunity for the Penguins to put No. 87’s unit on Kuznetsov if they want, although Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan is also cognizant of not chasing matchups that could affect the natural flow of his four-line rotation.
via NBC Sports Group press release,
PENGUINS-CAPITALS GAME 5 ON NBC IS SECOND-MOST WATCHED NON-STANLEY CUP FINAL NHL PLAYOFF GAME SINCE 1993
Saturday’s primetime presentation of Game 5 between the Penguins and Capitals on NBC (7:08-11:05 p.m. ET) is the second-most watched non-Stanley Cup Final game on record (since 1993), averaging 4.164 million viewers. The game also posted a 2.40 HH rating, making it the second-highest rated non-Stanley Cup Final game ever on NBC (since 2006). Saturday night’s game trails only last year’s Western Conference Final Game 7 matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks on NBC in both categories (5/30/15; 4.601 million viewers and 2.61 HH rating).
- Through all available games on NBC, the playoffs have posted 1.983 million average viewers (up 8% from NBC’s comparable coverage of the playoffs last year);
- Pittsburgh – Game 5 produced a 19.8 rating in Pittsburgh to rank as the highest-rated Penguins game on NBC in the market since the 2013 Eastern Conference Final (6/1/13; 23.2);
- Washington D.C. – Game 5 produced a 7.7 rating in Washington D.C. to rank as the highest-rated Capitals game on NBC in the market since the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. Boston (4/22/12; 8.7);
- NBC was the No. 1 network in both Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. during the game.
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
This is as bad as it’s been in quite a while for the Penguins.
They’ve lost a game.
One in a row.
Not exactly a streak. More like a smudge.
Still, it matches their longest skid of the past four months, since they dropped consecutive games to Carolina and Tampa Bay — both in overtime — Jan. 12-15.
What’s more, they haven’t suffered three consecutive losses since dropping five in a row Dec. 11-19, the final four of which were Mike Sullivan’s first four after replacing Mike Johnston as coach.
All that is noteworthy because Washington will have to beat them for the second consecutive time in Game 6 at 8:10 p.m. today at Consol Energy Center to extend this second-round playoff series to a Game 7.
And to claim a spot in the Eastern Conference final opposite Tampa Bay, the Capitals would have to close out this best-of-seven against the Penguins with three victories in a row.
The Capital defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 to force a game 6 on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
Braden Holtby was outstanding.
from Tom Gulitti of NHL.com,
1. PLAY WITH URGECNY
The Capitals are looking to come back from a 3-1 deficit for the third time in their history and first time since their 2009 first-round series against the New York Rangers. If they don't win Saturday their season is over. That should be all the motivation they need to come up with their best game of the playoffs.
Although the Penguins have won the past three games, they don't want to take anything for granted. They also were up 3-1 against the Rangers in the first round and finished that series in five games. They'd like to do the same against the Capitals.
"When you have a team in that situation you want to make the most of the opportunity," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said Saturday. "We have to have the same type of approach as we would with any other playoff game, but just understand the situation and know what to expect."
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Crosby has one assist in the series. Ovechkin has one goal. But because the Pens have won three of four, Crosby’s lack of production isn’t as meaningful as Ovechkin’s.
Washington’s No. 8 is getting lots of shots, and lots of hits, and even got away with a nasty slash to Crosby’s hands in Game 4. It’s not like he has been invisible or uninvolved.
But if the Caps go down, none of that will matter. Ovechkin will attract more than his fair share of the blame, which is what happens when you make the big bucks and wear the “C.”
All that will matter is that once again, Washington won’t have made it past the second round of the Stanley Cup tournament, something the franchise hasn’t done since 1998.
This was supposed to happen very differently this spring. GM Brian MacLellan went out of his way to add personnel like ex-Kings Justin Williams and Richards, players who understood the difference between playoff success and failure and how to help Washington get out of its cycle of playoff disappointment.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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