How the Ovechkin-Caps fared in Game 7's

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capspens.jpgIt’s kind of stunning to think that every single Alex Ovechkin Era Washington Capitals playoff series went to a Game 7. Whether it was a marquee matchup with Pittsburgh or seemingly mundane clashes with the Rangers and Canadiens, the Caps have been pushed to the brink each and every time. Oddly enough, each series also ended (for better or for worse) in “The Phone Booth” in DC.

Let’s take a look at the Capitals history of Game 7’s during the Ovechkin-Boudreau-etc. days.

#1: First Round of 2008

Philadelphia 3, Washington 2 in OT

The Capitals came back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a Game 7 but couldn’t get it done in this one. Three of the game’s five goals were scored on the powerplay, including Joffrey Lupul’s series winning OT GWG. Alex Ovechkin came to play with a goal and an assist, although I recall Ovechkin receiving criticism for making “an extra pass” to Sergei Fedorov in one of the game’s defining moments. This also ended the brief (but for him, lucrative) Cristobal Huet reign in Washington.

#2: First Round of 2009

Washington 2, New York Rangers 1

Proving that a series lead doesn’t do much good for opponents or the Capitals, Washington came back from another 3-1 gap. This time, though, the team actually won the Game 7. Semyon Varlamov came in relief of Jose Theodore early in the series and helped the team make a long-awaited visit to the second round. The game – in my opinion – was often in the Rangers’ hands but the team lacked offensive punch to put it away. Instead, Sergei Fedorov roofed it past Henrik Lundqvist for the 2-1 win.

#3 Second Round of 2009

Pittsburgh 6, Washington 2

The pivotal play came early in the game, when Marc-Andre Fleury made a huge save on Alex Ovechkin. Pittsburgh ran to a stunning 5-0 lead, chasing Varlamov and embarrassing the team they fought toe-to-toe for most of the exhilarating first six games. Sidney Crosby had 2 goals and 1 assist, helping the Penguins come back from a 2-0 series deficit to beat their media-christened rivals.

So, the question is, what will this Game 7 hold for the Capitals? Will they go 2-2 in elimination games at home since eschewing Bondra for Boudreau or drop to 1-3 despite having home ice advantage? We will find out tonight.

PHT Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby eyes more history

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Bob McKenzie shares his memories of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, who apparently was a big hockey fan. (TSN)

Don Cherry discusses John Brophy’s toughness after the former Leafs coach recently passed away. (Sportsnet)

 

A look at Vincent Lecavalier‘s career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

The perils of flip-flopping goalies in the playoffs … although it worked out for the Penguins at least last night. (The Hockey News)

Speaking of which, will the Blues get burned for switching back to Brian Elliott in Game 6 tonight? Here’s a preview:

Sidney Crosby has a chance to join a very rare club of clutch goal-scorers if he can win it for Pittsburgh in Game 7:

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.