Capitals overwhelm Penguins 5-2 to force Game 7

Mark Goldman  Icon Sportswire

"FLEU-RY!" and might've planted enough of a seed of belief for the Washington Capitals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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. "Not one you want to take too often". "We can wear them down a little bit more there". Puck possession and skating hadn't been the issues, and once he got the first playoff goal Saturday, the others came more easily.

The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins will meet in a Game 7 for the fourth time and second time in the Sidney Crosby/Alex Ovechkin era. "If he decides he wants to go out there and play it's his choice once he is aware of the risk". It was the second time in the series Ottawa tied the score in the closing minutes at home before winning in the extra period. They didn't get their first shot on Braden Holtby until the 12:17 mark of the opening period when defenseman Brian Dumoulin's clearing attempt from 136 feet away was caught by the Capitals' goaltender.

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.

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Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan tinkered with his line combinations reuniting the "HBK" line (Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel) that played an instrumental part in the team's Cup run last spring.

By Tuesday the reunion was already in the rearview mirror, with all three players on separate lines during a brief by spirited practice.

To some it was a wonder Sidney Crosby was allowed to continue playing after taking not one but two blows to the head in the first period. He didn't miss a shift and stressed he felt fine. "What you're talking about is the difference between checking with a doctor and entering concussion protocol, they're two separate things".

Washington opened the scoring on the same power play, when Backstrom released Evgeny Kuznetsov who set up Oshie for a 1-0 lead.

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Less ideal? The Penguins and Crosby not being on the same page or at least not being on the same page of what they're telling people. Now they're doing neither. He finished the game with the goal, two shots and four hits. "But I thought our game was really, really quite good in both those Game 7s".

Head coach Mike Sullivan said after the 5-2 loss that Crosby wasn't evaluated. "But you have to give Washington credit too".

Instead, we got an excuse because of the rulebook. 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. In beating the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist to put Ottawa up 3-2 in the series, Turris joined Devin Setoguchi, Martin St. Louis, Niclas Wallin, Danny Gare, Rene Robert and Mel Hill in the record books and passed Daniel Alfredsson for the most in franchise history. Despite the blowout in Game 6, they're still right there. Andre Burakovsky consistently looked to be on the precipice of scoring, generating some of the best chances of any Washington forward during the postseason, but his shots kept missing the net as he tried to "pick the corners", he said.

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