Monday, 15 May 2017

NHL - Playoffs - Round 2 - Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals - Pens Win Series 4-3

Penguins @ Washington Capitals 3-2 - Thursday, April 27, 2017
After letting a two-goal lead slip way, the Pittsburgh Penguins again used their speed to make the most of an opportunity. Nick Bonino scored the tiebreaking goal with 7:24 remaining in the third period to give the Penguins a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Verizon Center. Sidney Crosby scored twice in the first 1:04 of the second period to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for the Capitals to tie it before Bonino got the game-winner on a partial breakaway. The Penguins were outshot 35-21, including 16-6 in the third period. Marc-Andre Fleury made six of his 33 saves in the final 3:08 to preserve the lead. Crosby scored on a 2-on-1 with Jake Guentzel 12 seconds into the second period to give the lead, and again 52 seconds later on a rebound. Braden Holtby made a pad save on defenseman Olli Maatta's left-circle shot but left the puck in front, and Patric Hornqvist nudged it to Crosby in the right circle. Ovechkin made it 2-1 with 1:43 remaining in the second period, on a wrist shot from top of the left circle over Fleury's right shoulder. Kuznetsov tied the game 2-2 8:05 into the third period, taking a cross-ice pass from defenseman Matt Niskanen and shooting from the left circle.
* Bonino's game-winner started with a long pass from defenseman Ian Cole to left wing Scott Wilson at the Capitals blue line. Wilson passed to Bonino, who had a step on Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik and scored past Holtby's blocker.
"It's just a controlled breakout," Bonino said. "Usually they develop a little bit longer, but I think it was coming off a change. We kind of cut our routes short and it was just one of those things you try to feel and [Wilson] made a great pass to the middle for us."
"I couldn't see the puck for a little while there," Fleury said. "I had no stick, so I was trying to make some stops. It was fun."
"Kind of a weird play," Guentzel said. "Just trying to fall and somehow it hit me and stayed out."
"To steal a game in their rink and kind of effectively get home ice back in the series, I think that's huge, and we'll try to see if we can take Game 2." Bonino said.
"It was two great plays. On both [Hornqvist] gave us some loose pucks. He poked a couple pucks free and then Jake made a great pass on the 2-on-1. [Hornqvist] found me on the rebound there, so some really good looks from that." Crosby said.
"[Crosby] brings a lot of things to the table even if he doesn't score every night. He brings a lot of energy and a lot of confidence in this group. He's our leader and he's our best player." Patric Hornqvist

"[Game 2 is] not going to be easy, especially against the defending Stanley Cup champions. … They're the Stanley Cup champions. So we have to dictate the game. From the first minute of the game we have to make a statement." Alex Ovechkin

Penguins @ Washington Capitals 6-2 - Saturday, April 29, 2017
After goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury did not allow a goal facing 16 shots in the first period, the Pittsburgh Penguins scored three times in each of the final two periods for a 6-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 2. Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel each had two goals and an assist, but Pittsburgh knew it wouldn't have been in the game if not for Fleury, who finished with 34 saves.
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby was pulled after allowing three goals on 14 shots in the first two periods, and Philipp Grubauer made six saves in the third.
The Penguins were being outshot 19-5 before Matt Cullen beat Holtby between the pads on a shorthanded break to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead 1:15 into the second period. Matt Niskanen scored a power-play goal from the left circle at 2:09 of the second period to tie it 1-1. Sidney Crosby assisted on goals by Kessel at 13:04 and Guentzel at 16:14 to make it 3-1. Crosby set up Kessel for a right-circle shot into the right corner, then blocked Justin Williams' shot from above the left circle and nudged the puck ahead to Guentzel, who raced down and beat Holtby to the short side from the right circle. Kessel scored a power-play goal from the left circle 2:19 into the third period to make it 4-1. Nicklas Backstrom knocked in an Alex Ovechkin rebound to pull the Capitals within 4-2 at 3:44, but Malkin put the Penguins up 5-2 with a deflection at 5:31. Guentzel scored an empty-net goal with 43 seconds left to make it 6-2. He leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with seven goals.
* After taking a pass from Guentzel in the neutral zone, Crosby put the puck between his legs as he crossed the Capitals blue line, drawing three defenders to him before dishing off to Kessel.
"He fought off a couple guys and obviously he's special like that," Kessel said. "He's real strong out there and he'll make a great play."
* Cullen blocked Kevin Shattenkirk's point shot, then chased down the loose puck before fighting through Shattenkirk's hook to slip the puck between Holtby's pads.

"He's been our best player. In the first series (against the Columbus Blue Jackets), the first two games here, he's made timely saves for us, especially in that first period." Mike Sullivan said.
"They came hard. They put us back. They're a skilled team, a quick team. I just tried to keep our team in the game, and I thought the guys defended well and helped me out around the net, taking rebounds and blocking some shots." Marc-Andre Fleury.

Washington Capitals @ Penguins 3-2 OT - Monday, May 01, 2017
Kevin Shattenkirk scored a power-play goal 3:13 into overtime to give the Washington Capitals a 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at PPG Paints Arena. After Trevor Daley was called for holding Marcus Johansson at 2:40 of overtime, Shattenkirk beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot from below the circles for his first goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pittsburgh played most of the game without center Sidney Crosby.

Crosby left the game 5:24 into the first period after he charged toward the net on a 2-on-1. Alex Ovechkin dealt out a dirty hit to him with his stick, which seemed to make Crosby stumble before Matt Niskanen finished the job with a disgusting hit and cross-checked him in the side of his head. Trainers helped Crosby to the locker room after he was face down along the goal line for a few minutes. Niskanen was given a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan did not update Crosby's condition following the game. He said Crosby and Conor Sheary, who left with an apparent injury after colliding with linemate Patric Hornqvist at 2:24 of the second period, would be evaluated overnight.
After the morning skate, Shattenkirk expressed frustration with his performance in a 6-2 loss in Game 2 on Saturday, when Matt Cullen beat him on a shorthanded goal. His tune has since changed. Pittsburgh rallied to force overtime on goals by Evgeni Malkin and Justin Schultz 48 seconds apart late in the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead at 9:46 of the third period, but Malkin cut it to 2-1 with Fleury pulled for an extra attacker with 1:53 remaining.

Schultz tied it when his slap shot got past Braden Holtby with 1:05 left.
Backstrom scored the Capitals' first goal during a 5-on-3 at 13:05 of the first period. Chris Kunitz appeared to tie it 1-1 at 1:05 of the second period when a backhanded pass from Malkin went off him while he crashed the crease. The goal was upheld after an initial review, where it was ruled the puck crossed the line before the net came completely off its moorings. But it was disallowed after the Capitals successfully challenged for goaltender interference.
Holtby made 28 saves. Fleury stopped 30 shots.
* Backstrom passed back to Shattenkirk, setting him up for the overtime winner. T.J. Oshie skated in front of Brian Dumoulin, which caused a screen in front of Fleury. Oshie jumped out of the way of Shattenkirk's shot to allow it to sneak under Fleury's blocker.

Sullivan said the approach would not change if Crosby were unable to play moving forward.
"We're hopeful, first of all, that that won't be the case. But I think this group has so much character and talent that we're able to endure the injuries that we have. We've done it all year long. We continued to do it tonight, and we'll continue to do it."
"[Washington is] a tough team to beat. It's a tough team to match up against. We found a way tonight to get back into it. It wasn't enough, but we'll go from there." Chris Kunitz

Barry Trotz who came up short of putting his neck on the line, oh wait he doesn't have one eh? Decided to push the attention away from his pair of goons and invent phantom infractions he felt his side should have been given before getting back on subject with his words to his team before overtime.
"I just said, 'It's another test for us.' You have to sort of park it and I think we've been really good at parking stuff. … We said, 'Let's just play.'"

Washington Capitals @ Penguins 2-3 - Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Marc-Andre Fleury might have been the most emotional member of the Pittsburgh Penguins after center Sidney Crosby sustained another concussion.
With the Penguins missing their captain, Fleury excelled again, making 36 saves in a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 4. The Penguins can end the series by winning Game 5 at Washington on Saturday. NHL teams who win Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead have won a best-of-7 series almost 90 percent of the time (210-24), according to Fleury has allowed fewer than three goals in six of his nine starts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has started each game in place of goalie Matt Murray, who was injured during warmups for Game 1 of the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Following practice Tuesday, one day after Crosby was concussed in Game 3, Fleury said he would like the Penguins to see Crosby smile again. On Wednesday, Fleury said Pittsburgh displayed heart. Justin Schultz gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead at 11:24 of the second period with a power-play goal after John Carlson was called for roughing at 10:45. Patric Hornqvist and Jake Guentzel put Pittsburgh ahead 2-0 before Washington scored two goals 1:12 apart in the second period.

Hornqvist gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead on a breakaway at 4:39 of the first period. Olli Maatta's pass up ice allowed Hornqvist to split defensemen Brooks Orpik and Karl Alzner before quickly stickhandling to freeze Braden Holtby and putting a shot into the upper-right corner of the net. On Pittsburgh's second goal, Guentzel skated down the near wall before passing the puck toward Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov in front of Holtby. The pass hit Orlov's skate and slid past Holtby to make it 2-0 at 3:51 of the second period. Evgeny Kuznetsov cut it to 2-1 when he shot from the left circle over Fleury's shoulder at 7:21, and Nate Schmidt tied it 2-2 with a slap shot at 8:33. Even with Crosby out, Capitals coach Barry Trotz expected the Penguins' best and hoped Washington would respond.

* Schultz one-timed a slap shot past Holtby to break a 2-2 tie. The goal came on Pittsburgh's third of five shots in the second period. The Penguins were outshot 17-5 but maintained a one-goal lead.

"[Fleury] has elevated his game at an important time. He's a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender. I think he's showing it." Mike Sullivan said.
"Sid's our leader. He's our captain. He's a great player. You can't replace him, and I thought the guys showed character together as a team. They played well offensively and defensively." Fleury said.
"We know we can be better. We're a resilient group. We know when we go out there and just play. We're a good enough team to win these. It was a battle." Olli Maatta

"We have to forget it and we have to move forward. Every game right now for us is a seventh game, so we have to win three to move forward and I'm pretty sure we're ready for that." Alex Ovechkin

Penguins @ Washington Capitals 2-4 - Saturday, May 06, 2017
The Washington Capitals scored three goals in the third period, including two in 27 seconds, to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 and avoid elimination in Game 5. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin scored at 7:20 and 7:47 of the third period to give Washington a 4-2 lead. Andre Burakovsky and Nicklas Backstrom scored, and Braden Holtby made 20 saves for the Capitals, who have won two of the past three games. Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves for the Penguins, who led 1-0 and 2-1. Center Sidney Crosby returned after missing Game 4 with a concussion sustained in Game 3. Backstrom tied the game 2-2 at 2:49 of the third period. Kessel's power-play goal gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead at 4:20 of the second. Crosby had an assist. Burakovsky tied it 1-1 with his first goal of this postseason with 30 seconds left in the first period, after Hagelin scored his first at 10:24 to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.
* Kuznetsov got to a loose puck down low and scored from a tight angle to give the Capitals the lead.
"They just got some momentum. We had our chances to build on that lead. We didn't, and then they tie it up and get some life off that and then gained some momentum there for a short span. You're going to lose momentum sometimes. Unfortunately we gave up some goals in the process of that."
"I mean, we don't want to sit back. I don't think we did. We've got to do a better job executing, especially with the lead. Like I said, we had some chances there. I think if we can hold onto the puck in there end a little bit more, we should get more shots. I think we'll generate a little bit more from that. Just being a little bit better in the offensive zone." Crosby said. 

Washington Capitals @ Penguins 5-2 - Monday, May 08, 2017
The Washington Capitals had controlled much of the play throughout the Eastern Conference Second Round, and it finally resulted in a lopsided victory.
Andre Burakovsky scored twice to help the Capitals defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 6 at PPG Paints Arena. The best-of-7 series is tied 3-3 with Game 7 at Washington on Wednesday. The Capitals would like to repeat their performance from Monday, when they outshot the Penguins 26-18 and 16-9 through the first two periods. The Capitals have won the past two games after falling behind 3-1 in the series. T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson also scored, and Braden Holtby made 16 saves for the Capitals. Holtby has allowed fewer than three goals in three of his past four games. Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves for the Penguins. Oshie gave Washington a 1-0 lead on its second power play of the first period with his first goal of the series. Backstrom passed to Evgeny Kuznetsov along the goal line, where he tapped a pass to Oshie, who dropped to one knee and one-timed a shot past Fleury at 12:41. The Capitals outshot the Penguins 11-3 in the first. Burakovsky scored to make it 2-0 6:36 into the second period. Before his goal in Game 5, Burakovsky had not scored in his first 10 games of the playoffs. Backstrom, who has four goals in his past five games, made it 3-0 16 seconds into the third period. Carlson extended the lead to 4-0 on a power-play goal with 8:43 remaining and Burakovsky scored his second goal to push it to 5-0 with 7:31 left. Sidney Crosby set up Guentzel for his ninth goal of the playoffs to make it 5-1 with 3:22 remaining before Malkin cut it to 5-2 with 2:30 left.

* After stripping Penguins defenseman Ron Hainsey of the puck, Burakovsky turned toward Fleury and went on a 2-on-1 with Oshie facing Pittsburgh defenseman Ian Cole. Burakovsky shot off Fleury's right side for Washington's second goal.

"I think it's frustrating when you have an opportunity like this to win a game and win a series at home and you don't play the way that you'd like. You can get frustrated. So, there was a little bit of frustration, but I thought we talked about making sure that we grab a hold of ourselves, stay focused and just try to play the game the right way." Mike Sullivan said.
"It's fine. We're still in the same spot. We just need one more win. That's the good thing about it. It's a good thing we got ourselves a lead there [in the series] and are able to still be in the race to beat them." Marc-Andre Fleury.

Penguins @ Washington Capitals 2-0 - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going back to the Eastern Conference Final, trying to get back to the Stanley Cup Final. Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves in a 2-0 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Verizon Center. Pittsburgh won after losing Games 3, 5 and 6.
Pittsburgh, the defending Stanley Cup champion, will play the Ottawa Senators in the conference final. Braden Holtby made 26 saves for Washington, which has not reached the conference final since 1998. Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist scored for the Penguins, who have won six in a row on the road in Game 7. Rust gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 8:49 of the second period, his first goal of the series after scoring four in a five-game, first-round win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Penguins forward Sidney Crosby, who missed Game 4 after sustaining a concussion in Game 3, had an assist, his 10th. Hornqvist scored at 4:14 of the third period to make it 2-0 with his fourth of this postseason. It was Fleury's ninth Stanley Cup Playoff shutout, first this year. He has played every game since starting Game 1 of the first round after Matt Murray was injured during warmups.
* Crosby passed to the left circle to Jake Guentzel, who drew the defense and passed to Rust for the first goal.

"I don't know if I can say enough about this group of players. We've been through so much since I've been here. They just always find a way to respond the right way to any of the challenges or the adversities that this league throws at us, and they did it again tonight. I think these guys are at their best when the stakes are high. That might be the best game that we've played in the playoffs to this point, and I thought that was the closest thing to the Penguins identity that we've seen in the playoffs so far." Mike Sullivan.
"I thought we did a great job of regrouping. They came hard early on, so I thought we gathered ourselves, [Fleury] made some saves, and for at least the second and third (periods) I thought we were more on our game and on our toes a little bit more. That was probably one of our better games we've played. It's the right time to have that one." Sidney Crosby.
"It was a long series against a good team. They came hard at us till the end, and we're proud of the way we played tonight and the way we handled the pressure and these guys over the series." Fleury said.

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