A pair of Game 6s hit the ice tonight with the road teams in positions to end the series. As we’ve seen throughout the playoffs, the road teams are doing obscenely well and making that whole “home ice advantage” thing seem like a cruel joke. With tonight’s games, particular attention will be paid to the goaltenders. We’ll be curious to see how Pittsburgh bounces back after an 8-2 thrashing and how Antti Niemi responds after giving up three goals in four shots in Game 5 is worth paying attention to. All times listed are Eastern.
Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay – 7 p.m. (Versus) – Pittsburgh leads series 3-2
If Steven Stamkos and Simon Gagne did indeed find their offensive touch after Game 5’s 8-2 whooping, things get instantly scary for Pittsburgh. The Penguins have been able to keep those guys off the sheet most of the series while still having their hands full with Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. Pittsburgh’s been defensively strong but trying to wrangle all four of those guys while they’re hot could really stretch their defense too far. One thing that could get Pittsburgh to not have to worry about anything would be to get their power play clicking. The Penguins have scored on 4% of their power plays in this series. We know they miss Sidney Crosby, but this is when guys like Jordan Staal, James Neal, and Alex Kovalev have to be better.
San Jose @ Los Angeles – 10 p.m. (Versus) – San Jose leads series 3-2
If there’s a team that perhaps no one is really giving a chance of winning their first round series it’s L.A. Aside from Jon Quick’s shutout in Game 2 and his 51 save effort in Game 5, he’s been below average in net. For all the shouting going on around San Jose’s Antti Niemi, there’s been no such talk around Quick. Without that cloud of doubt, does Quick have it in him again to stand on his head? We’ll find out. Los Angeles could certainly stand to defend their home ice as it’s been nothing but a horror show for them at Staples Center. With that kind of recent history, you have to think San Jose’s feeling awfully comfortable playing there. It’ll be up to L.A. to make them uncomfortable. Jumping out early might be all it takes.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.
Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.
The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.
Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.
But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.
“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.
Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.
Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.
It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.
It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.
For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.
Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.
Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.
Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.
The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.
Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:
In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.
Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.
Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.