The Capitals hope to change that Wednesday night when they host the Penguins in the seventh and deciding game of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Senators first encounter with the Capitals was New Year's Day, when they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Verizon Center. Penguins' coach Mike Sullivan said in his post-game comments that Crosby in fact, did not go through the concussion protocol after the first period. The Capitals are 41-12 in their last 53 games playing on 1 days rest, 62-22 in their last 84 home games and 36-16 in their last 52 games following a win.
On a night when the Penguins needed to come out and control play in the offensive zone, they failed to register a shot in the first half of the period, finished the period with only three shots on net total and of those three, two were pucks launched from the blue line that happened to be on net. Sullivan also moved rookie Guentzel alongside Malkin and put Conor Sheary with Crosby.
"When you go in like that, it just kind of knocked the wind out of me", Crosby said. "We know that's not going to be the exact same story". "We're going to have to push them out". And here, against the defending Stanley Cup champions, they responded with all the qualities their predecessors have so frequently ceded to opponents - poise and patience, savvy, a self-assuredness that, frankly, was somewhat unsettling given the name across the front of their sweaters. Now, the only question is whether they can keep it going right on into Game 7.?
"The best thing about this game is we came and did what we wanted to do", Holtby said. "Even in the Toronto series, and then a couple games in this series, mentally we weren't able to stay focused". In Game 5, Kuznetsov scored on an angle straight from the goal line. In the Ovechkin era, the Caps have yet to play for the Prince of Wales Trophy, especially with Crosby dominating the Battle of Greats between him and Ovechkin.
"I think it was fairly tight", Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby said. It feels all too familiar; finding ways to win early and then like a flipped switch, nothing works and the Penguins can't buy a goal or event a shot on goal. He was back after missing a single game. "I just think with this group that I've been with, our Game 7s have been pretty solid".
Pittsburgh had a couple of scary moments in the first. Among the long departed who played that night: Bill Guerin, Mirolsav Satan and Hal Gill for the Penguins; Tom Poti, Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov for the Capitals.More news: Guardiola missing three players to injury ahead of critical Watford clash
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It looks as though Chad Ruhwedel will get the nod with Daley out considering he is taking reps on the second power play.
He rose slowly to his feet, seemingly disoriented, but remained in the game.
Washington took a 2-0 lead at 6:36 of the second. And this has nothing to do with the Penguins because the new concussion spotter protocol was supposed to take this decision entirely out of their hands.
The Capitals certainly did not sit on their lead.
"We had absolutely nothing to lose", Backstrom said. Even if we had been trained to expect it in this series. "It comes down to one game, and finding a way to execute when it means the most".
Both players lead the Capitals in this series with four goals and three assists each.
Consider that the shaky goalie was once Washington's Braden Holtby, yanked after two periods of the second game.