Capitals overwhelm Penguins 5-2 to force Game 7

Capitals overwhelm Penguins 5-2 to force Game 7

Without question, this was the worst Penguins effort we've seen in 2016-17.

Washington is as close as it has been to its first appearance in the conference finals in 19 years after rallying from a 3-1 series deficit by sprinting by Pittsburgh in the third period at home in Game 5 and then delivering a masterful performance 48 hours later. Facing elimination and with everyone already chalking this series up as yet another playoff failure for the Caps, Washington had nothing to lose in Games 5 and 6. Since then, it has been all Washington, perhaps not entirely unexpected given that the Capitals rolled to the Presidents' Trophy during the season. The games are being played primarily in the Pittsburgh end and the Penguins are feeling the absence of defenseman Kris Letang and (in the last two games) goaltender Matt Murray. First period is really important.

While Pittsburgh takes a fair amount of history into Game 7 - where the franchise is 5-0 in winner-take-alls on the road - the Penguins also have fizzled out.

"Nobody feels good about our game tonight", Pens superstar captain Sidney Crosby told reporters.

Sidney Crosby, who was knocked out of the opening minutes in Game 3 and missed Game 4, hasn't scored since Game 1. No longer would a trainer have to be told to go forth and multiply after tapping a player on the shoulder and telling him to leave the bench. He did not. A collective sigh of relief. But because of how they reached that moment - by playing their best hockey when nothing less would suffice - they will take the ice as favorites.

T.J. Oshie opened the scoring in the first period before Burakovsky grabbed his first of the night in the second period to give the Caps a deserved 2-0 lead at Pittsburgh's PPG Paints Arena.

The Post learned Tuesday morning that a Central League Spotter was in touch with the Penguins after Crosby crashed into the boards.

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Washington spent a fair share of time in the Penguins' end of the ice, but the Caps were also able to create several odd-man rush opportunities over the course of the contest. He remained in the game but found little room to work. A soft goal after several games of phenomenal play from Fleury seemed to deflate both him and his teammates, and Washington carried play for the remainder of the second. Another stunning collapse -this one in five games- may have caused total reconstruction of the Capitals organization.

"Players will discuss their experience with the group and share their experience that they think will help the group have success", Sullivan said. OKish, maybe. Certainly not playing at the level he did during the regular season, not remotely like he did in Pittsburgh's wins in Games 1 and 2 in Washington.

When: Wednesday, May 10 at 4:30 p.m. There could always be a wildcard team looking to jump in and alter their plans, but the market of teams without a goalie isn't all that large.

When the Capitals fell behind the Penguins three games to one in their National Hockey League playoff second-round series, it seemed as though history was about to repeat. 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 Penguins struggled to maintain any kind of pressure in the offensive zone in Game 6. Burakovsky has three goals in his last two games, and Ovechkin scored a big goal in Game 5. Oshie's goal came with Crosby watching from the penalty box, off for hooking the ever-irritating Tom Wilson. Penguins coach Mike Crosby said afterward that Crosby was not evaluated for a concussion.

"No", he said and nothing more.