Capitals, Ducks confront Game 7 demons vs. Penguins, Oilers

There's no way they should be put in the position where they have to weigh the long-term health of a player between the desire to win a hockey game, particularly in the heat of the moment. Washington heads into a deciding seventh game for the 10th time in 15 playoff series since the Alex Ovechkin/Nicklas Backstrom began with the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs.

In the first period of Game 6 on Monday night, Sidney Crosby crashed hard into the end boards with the principal point of contact looking to be his head area. Crosby clarified the chain of events Tuesday, following the team's practice, noting that he was attended to by the team trainer and then examined by the team doctor, who decided Crosby did not need to enter the protocol at the first intermission. Heading into Game 7, now would be a good time for Lars Eller and Jay Beagle to pick up their first goal. If not, it will be another year where Ovechkin is spending his spring playing for a gold in the world championship rather than a Stanley Cup.

But now that they have, we finally have ourselves a series. Let's face it, those shots are more likely to get blocked before they ever reach Fleury than they are to get on net. They looked exhausted, disinterested, they were flat-footed, they turned the puck over... all of the things that won them the Stanley Cup (and a Game 6 versus the Capitals a year ago) they suddenly quit doing. The first three rallied Washington from a 2-1 deficit to keep its season alive. How do we explain the first four games when the Penguins were drastically outshot and still won games?

One week later at Canadian Tire Centre, Holtby posted a 30-save shutout while Condon gave up just one on 20 shots, to T.J. Oshie in the game's second minute. The Penguins goalie, who had been outstanding in the playoffs, has allowed nine goals in the last two games.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has become an expert in his 18 months on the job expertly pressing all the right buttons. He reunited the "HBK" line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel that worked so well during last spring's Cup run and the trio responded by generating one shot on goal. He did not immediately leave the ice after the play, rejoining the Penguins' power play for a defensive-zone faceoff. Though "HBK" was hardly the only group that had issues.

"I just got tripped up there going pretty fast and went into the boards pretty awkwardly".

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The NHL recently expanded its concussion spotters program to include both personnel in the arena and "a new staff of Central League Spotters [that] will monitor all games from the Player Safety Room in NY". He didn't miss a shift.

Fleury is going to have come up big against the NHL's most unsafe offense one more time and the blue line will have to learn from its Game 6 mistakes and be more careful with the puck.

Penguins fans, now you can start to play this card. The two exchanged hat tricks in Game 2 and Washington did something very un-Capital-like by winning an elimination game on the road to force a Game 7. Now they're doing neither. "If they go through the protocol, then I usually get notified by our medical staff". While he was with the Rangers, three of Hagelin's Game 7 wins came against the Capitals.

Instead, we got an excuse because of the rulebook.

There's nothing better in hockey than the NHL playoffs, and there's nothing better in the NHL playoffs than a Game 7. After a late-season stretch in which they lost eight straight (0-5-3) at the Garden, a lackluster defeat to Montreal in Game 3 in the first round was their sixth straight on home ice in the postseason.

Game 6 brought the return of the famed "HBK" line and several other changes but the line shakeups offered no reward as the Caps shut down the Pens all night.

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