Good, Bad and the Ugly Going into Game 6

09 May 2017, 07:58 | Kristine Mills

SUCCESS IN SMASHVILLE: A 3-1 victory in Game 6 Sunday over the St. Louis Blues put the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference final for the first time in their 18-year franchise history.

The Capitals will need to reproduce that urgency twice more to avoid another second-round exit. Three goals in five minutes and the Capitals had turned the tables on the Penguins, snatching back Game 5 after it appeared set to slip through their fingers. The Penguins went into the second intermission with a lead having won 37 of 39 games in that spot during the regular season and all six in the playoffs.

Coach Mike Sullivan agreed almost word for word.

One of the answers the Penguins are going to need to come up with is how to defend a new-look Capitals team that has spread their forward talent across four lines.

The Penguins' main weapons broke through on the man-advantage but offered little resistance during even-strength play, a formula that didn't prove fruitful against the surging Capitals.

Kunitz certainly has more name recognition among fans than any of those three, but this was by far his worst season in the National Hockey League. Holtby hasn't stolen any games in this series yet and it would be a huge help if he does at some point in the next two games.

"I thought he was solid", Sullivan said.

Derick Brassard tied the score with 1:26 left in the third period for Ottawa, which trailed 2-0 just 5 1/2 minutes into the game and 4-3 with 7:12 remaining.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin scored goals 27 seconds apart in the third period, and the Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Saturday night to stay alive in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

Two days later, the Capitals have forced a Game 7 against their rivals, on home ice back in Washington, too.

"I live for those types of games", Kuznetsov said. Braden Holtby got a big piece of Hagelin's wrist shot but could not prevent it from crossing the line. A deeper look says Kunitz possesses an incredible plus-11.1 Relative Corsi For percentage. "Played on our toes still but stayed patient and didn't try to do too much and we got rewarded". These things don't just magically get better in a day or two. Center Sidney Crosby returned after missing Game 4 with a concussion sustained in Game 3. Malkin, in the right circle, took a pass from Crosby and then fed through the slot to Kessel, who beat a sliding Holtby at 4:20 for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

In theory, it was a great idea, especially with Hagelin seemingly out of his slump. In the third period both teams combined for 48 attempts.

Crosby had an assist in his first game back and felt good, but the Penguins couldnt handle the Capitals quick-strike offense in the third period that has made this series between the NHLs top two teams even more interesting.

Pittsburgh regained the lead early in the second period on a pretty passing sequence on a power play. With a lot of his ice time coming against Malkin in this series, Kuznetsov has scored four goals in five games. He will turn to the veterans that he can count upon to play smartly in the defensive zone.

"I talked to him, told him we wanted to change it up".

Ever since Trotz rolled into Washington almost three years ago, he has tried to help his players - and, by extension, a fan base perpetually stricken with Game 7-induced gastroenteritis - forget. If the Penguins are to eliminate the Capitals once and for all, he might need to play a larger role than anyone originally expected.

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