National Hockey League playoffs: Capitals force seventh game

In the next two games no Pittsburgh defenseman had more than six minutes against the Capitals' new third line, and Ovechkin's own individual scoring chances went from 1.1 per 60 minutes in Games 1-4 to 7.5 in Games 5 and 6. The Pittsburgh Penguins may do the same before Monday night's critical Game 6 - including the potential reunion of one of the team's most beloved trios of last year's Stanley Cup run. How on earth is this team not already waiting for its conference finals opponent? The Pittsburgh Penguins are averaging 3.4 goals per game and are scoring on 23.1 percent of their power plays.

There's word out of Pittsburgh that Mike Sullivan may be looking to juggle some of the defensive pairings to try and keep up with Washington.

"We are having fun now", Washington coach Barry Trotz said. We know how we play. "I believe in this group and we're going to rely on our experience". Washington will have to score a lot to force a Game 7, and that seems highly unlikely on the road. They didn't get their first shot on Braden Holtby until the 12:17 mark of the opening period when defenseman Brian Dumoulin's clearing attempt from 136 feet away was caught by the Capitals' goaltender.

In the five games prior, Pittsburgh displayed a vexing habit of clogging up the space in front of the net and blocking shots.

From his customary spot on the right half-wall, Nicklas Backstrom carried up toward the blueline, but released the puck back down low, to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was manning the goal line spot off the right post where Marcus Johansson normally operates. By then the Capitals already had a 1-0 lead on Oshie's shot from the right circle on the power play.

The Capitals led in shots 11-3 by the end of the first. The Capitals' dominance was again the case in Game 5, too.

Brassard said the message on the Ottawa bench was "pretty clear" at that point: Seven minutes remained to tie the game. "We turned the puck over and then we started chasing the game a bit. I think he's accepted that, and once you accept that, then you become a real good player".

Pittsburgh had a couple of scary moments in the first.

Cleveland Browns select Howard Wilson at No. 126 overall
And there's still plenty of quarterback drama as well, with Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer likely to be a second-round selection. Reddick in Round 1 and safety Budda Baker in Round 2 were great scheme fits for a Cardinals defense that prizes versatility.

Crosby, who sat out a game to recover from his most recent concussion, was agonizingly slow to get up.

Matt Niskanen with a nice hockey play to leave his skates out for Patric Hornqvist to slide into, eh?

QUOTABLE: "I think just understanding that you have to be desperate".

The Senators took the series lead with a 5-4 overtime win Saturday after tying the score late in the third period.

As the Capitals continue to push forward and avoid yet another disappointing second-round elimination, their captain must lead them above and beyond. It's fantastic it's taken this long to bring up this fact, but it's so well-known, so much part of the fabric, that it's just assumed as common knowledge: Alex Ovechkin's Capitals have never advanced past the second round of the playoffs. "I'm not going to say exactly which area".

"I thought all of them responded", Trotz said. Is it because he was moved up to the first line in place of Alex Ovechkin and benefited from being alongside Backstrom and T.J. Oshie? But, can that team show up for three periods tonight? Chad Ruhwedel was forced into the lineup and played only 13:14, which forced a heavier load onto the other five defensemen.

The difference for me when watching from the ice last night was the sound and the seismic measure of Game 5 when compared to the previous bouts. Crosby missed Game 4 and had an assist in Game 5.

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