Marian Gaborik can probably breath a little easier now.
The winger won’t hear (as much?) about his $7.5 million annual cap hit for at least a few nights as he ended far-and-away the longest game of the 2012 playoffs so far. He finished a one-timer attempt to give the New York Rangers a 2-1 triple OT win and a 2-1 series lead to boot. Let’s ponder a few things, then.
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- The obvious but crucial question: is this a back-breaker for the Capitals? The franchise has lot plenty of lengthy overtimes in its history, but this isn’t a common thing in the Alex Ovechkin era. Do you think this was a knockout punch or a learning experience for Washington?
- Which Caps player will lose the most sleep? Ovechkin had a shot off the post that fooled the red light operator and Verizon Center. Plenty of players had their fair share of near-goals. My vote? Troy Brouwer missed a couple absolutely golden chances in the first OT; you can watch one of the missed ones here.
- From a fatigue standpoint, which team might bounce back stronger in Game 4? Both teams have plenty of younger players. One factor to consider is that the Rangers’ defense got banged up. Dan Girardi traveled to the locker room to get stitched up, Ryan McDonagh took a thunderous hit from Matt Hendricks and so on.
- Both goalies were great. While Henrik Lundqvist must be pleased, Braden Holtby had no chance on that game-winner and certainly didn’t seem like a rookie in the OT marathon. Can he shake off this loss, though?
- Is there any fear that the Rangers will treat their trip to the “phone booth” as a success already? Another lengthy series could put a dent in their long-term hopes.
This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.
The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.
(Watch that goal in the video above.)
It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.
Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.
To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.
The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.
As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.
Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.
The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)
At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.
At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.
These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.
In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.
” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”
Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.
In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.
The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.
Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.
Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:
—Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6
—Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee
—Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason
—Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5