Penguins vs. Capitals: Stanley Cup Playoffs Odds and Prediction

Penguins clip Capitals on road in Game 1 of second-round seriesMore

Penguins clip Capitals on road in Game 1 of second-round seriesMore

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates his goal with the bench during the second period of Game 1 of the team's NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Washington.

Reigning champion Pittsburgh will face season points leader Washington starting Thursday in a second-round showdown between the NHL's two victory leaders of the campaign, the victor emerging as a clear favorite for the crown.

It worked wonders. Holtby dropped an Olli Maatta point shot, allowing Patric Hornqvist to bump a pass over to Crosby at the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Ottawa's Erik Karlsson played 182:23 with two microfractures in his foot and Washington's Braden Holtby saw the most shots and spent the most time on the ice of any goaltender in the first round, and they're ready to roll.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals will meet in the Eastern Conference semifinal round for the second consecutive season starting Thursday.

"Sure", Niskanen said. "Or we're in great shape".

Crosby scored twice in the first 64 seconds of the second period to give him as many goals as he had points in the Penguins' series against the Capitals a year ago.

"They're special athletes, both those guys, and they look for those big moments and they capitalize on those big moments", Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. I don't know if you have to hire a voodoo doctor or sacrifice the chicken or whatever you've got to do, but they have to get through this.

"They knocked us out previous year, so we get a chance to go back at them", Trotz said. The victor will face either the New York Rangers or Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference final, while the Western Conference best-of-seven second round series send Nashville against St. Louis and Anaheim against Edmonton.

"You get mentally tired, as well, the longer you play", Orpik said.

"And I'm looking at them thinking, 'Okay'". We've had some guys that have been injured and banged up. "We've got days in between to recover".

It was marketed as Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin and, one game in, it has lived up to that billing. It was Ovechkin's 11th goal in 14 career playoff games against Pittsburgh.

A playoff veteran, Orpik knew it would be better to get another workout in and take care of his 36-year-old body before leaving the arena. It's going to be tight.

"That's the difference in the game", Holtby said. Let's break down Game 1, shall we? Evgeny Kuznetsov tied that game at 2 in the third period, but Nick Bonino put Pittsburgh back on top for good just 4:31 later.

"I was a little nervous when I came back", Malkin said.

There were times when I was 20 that I had to lie down when given too much homework. Crosby netted two goals, Ovechkin scored one and generally speaking the Capitals dominated the Penguins defensive corps for the majority of Thursday night's contest.

Washington Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt (88) falls on the ice between Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Phil Kessel (81) and right wing Bryan Rust (17) during the second period of Game 1 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round.

"Big step today, getting involved in team practice", Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

The upcoming games seem to bring a bit more excitement, as the defending Stanley Cup Champions take on the Capitals.

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