Monday, 17 December, 2018

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Washington Capitals win to push Pittsburgh Penguins to brink

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Washington Capitals win to push Pittsburgh Penguins to brink Stanley Cup Playoffs: Washington Capitals win to push Pittsburgh Penguins to brink
Anna Jefferson | 07 May, 2018, 08:59

The Washington Capitals are trying to escape both their past and the second round of the playoffs, and a win Thursday in Game 4 of their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins could go a long way toward that.

"Everybody knows it's a big rivalry. We need to make sure we leave it all out there, give ourselves a chance to get back here".

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are on the brink of elimination.

"We knew we needed to have a good response game here", center Sidney Crosby told the Post-Gazette.

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby played one game against the Lightning, taking a 4-2 loss February 20. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is 4-1 on the road in these playoffs after going 17-20-4 away from home in the regular season. Hellebuyck has a 6-3 record with a 2.32 GAA and a.931 save percentage.The Winnipeg netminder has been slightly better to this point, and if he can maintain that edge, it could allow the Jets to prevail in the series.

That was the second controversial hit delivered by Wilson, who knocked Brian Dumoulin out of Game 2 with a hit that put one of the team's best defenseman into the NHL's concussion protocol. "Our biggest asset has been bouncing back, either after a win or a loss. I don't think anyone in here believes any different". Maybe Smith-Pelly will be back on that line, maybe he won't after the Capitals coaching staff pored over video to see what went wrong.

Following Vrana's goal, the Penguins registered just one shot on net. That's a disadvantage for Washington, but the spotlight is still on Trotz to make the necessary adjustments as Capitals-Penguins becomes a best-of-three series.

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"I just think he's the best player in the game", Sullivan said of Crosby, who played with Guentzel and Dominik Simon in Game 4.

More than any game they've played this spring, the Penguins desperately need a good start tonight. Forward Andre Burakovsky, who has been out with an upper-body injury since the Columbus series, skated Friday but is unlikely to return Saturday.

A defensive breakdown from Pittsburgh in the first minute of the third period left Kuznetsov all alone, and he beat Murray five-hole to tie the contest and give the home team the momentum for good after the Penguins had largely controlled play with a number of risky scoring chances.

In the West, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette also made a key change in the series between the NHL's top two teams, benching Game 2 double-overtime hero Kevin Fiala in favor of veteran Scott Hartnell for more size, strength and experience against Winnipeg. A review resulted in a goal call, and a challenge from the Capitals on goaltender interference was not upheld. All 10 of the Penguins' goals in the series have come with Crosby on the ice, and Guentzel leads all players in the playoffs with 10 goals and 21 points. The puck's finding me.

"Obviously, it feels really f--ing good", Vrana said.

John Carlson and Brett Connolly scored 33 seconds apart in the first period for Washington to erase Pittsburgh's lead from Jamie Oleksiak's goal.

Already playing without first-line forward Tom Wilson, who was serving the second game of a three-game National Hockey League suspension for questionable hits, the Capitals lost standout center Nicklas Bakstrom to an upper-body injury in that ill-fated second period.

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