‘I don’t think the urgency was there,’ says Ovechkin after another Capitals playoff defeat

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Through 40 minutes of Game 7, the Washington Capitals controlled a strong portion of the play.

They had an edge in shots on goal. They had an edge in shot attempts. They just didn’t have the edge in goals, which matter most in a single game, winner-take-all situation, after being unable to beat Marc-Andre Fleury, who had struggled in the previous two games, or more specifically, the previous four periods.

In the end, the disappointment and anger of another playoff failure emerged again as the Capitals couldn’t complete what would’ve been an incredible comeback from down three games to one against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

The second round remains a hurdle the Capitals have not been able to conquer. Not since 1998, anyway. Five of their last six playoff appearances (six appearances in the last seven years) have ended in the second round.

Read more:

Penguins played best game when they needed it most

Trotz wasn’t emotionally prepared to judge Ovechkin, Capitals after Game 7 loss

Down by one goal entering the third period, a situation in which a comeback is more than possible, the Capitals had just six shots on goal against Fleury. They eventually fell down by a pair of goals and then couldn’t manufacture much in the way of a dangerous scoring opportunity after that, leaving the ice once again after another early playoff exit.

The Penguins played a great third period. The Capitals, with their season and legacy on the line, could not match that. Which is troubling.

“I don’t think the urgency was there,” said Alex Ovechkin. “We just didn’t execute our chances.”

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby agreed with a suggestion that there was more anger from the Capitals following this latest playoff elimination — in a year when they were again Presidents’ Trophy winners with such a deep and talented roster favored to win it all — than the sadness from a year ago.

“Last year, we were in a close game, played well in Game 6 and … overtime,”said Holtby.

“I think tonight — I don’t think we gave ourselves a chance and we’re going to have to live with that and take full responsibility for that. It’s not what we worked for.”

The Capitals had given themselves a chance at a Game 7 after roaring back in Games 5 and 6 of this series. But they put themselves in a precarious position with two losses — including an ugly 6-2 defeat in Game 2 — at the beginning of the series and that was costly.

“We didn’t lose the series tonight. We lost it the first three games, four games,” said Nicklas Backstrom.

Another playoff disappointment ushers in an offseason of uncertainty for the Capitals. Their general manager, Brian MacLellan, said in February of 2016 that his club was in a two-year window to win it all.

“We’re going to have some decisions to make as far as veteran players, and our young guys are going to be due for some pay raises,” he said at the time.

According to CapFriendly, the Capitals have 12 players on expiring contracts at the end of this season. That includes five notable pending unrestricted free agents — T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Daniel Winnik, Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk.

“When you lose the right to keep playing, when you’re in the playoffs and you feel that you can be a team that can … do some damage, it always is a bitter pill to swallow,” said coach Barry Trotz.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators – Game 6

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Last night, the Nashville Predators demoralized the Ducks and advanced to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final. Will we learn their opponent tonight or on Thursday?

That’s up to how the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators perform in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Will Sidney Crosby and the Penguins follow that 7-0 rout with a close-out performance, or will Erik Karlsson and the Senators avenge that embarrassing loss to send this series to a decisive Game 7?

Find out on NBCSN at tonight. You can also watch the game online and via the NBC Sports App.

Here’s what you need to know:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators (Pens lead 3-2)

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Check out the highlights from Pittsburgh’s 7-0 win in Game 5

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Pens redefining defense by committee

Four things the Pens need to do to eliminate the Sens

Swedish League champ sees another sign in NHL

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It’s an offseason of change for SHL champion HV71.

In the days following the league title, HV71 saw No. 1 goalie Linus Soderstrom sign his ELC with the Isles and d-man Andreas Borgman — the league’s rookie of the year — ink with the Leafs.

Earlier today, HV71 winger Filip Sandberg signed a two-year deal with San Jose. Shortly after that, Columbus announced it inked Sandberg’s running mate up front, Kevin Stenlund, to a three-year, entry-level deal.

Stenlund, 20, was the Blue Jackets’ second-round pick (58th overall) at the 2015 draft. He’s coming off a good year, setting career highs in goals, assists, points and games played during the regular season, then adding 10 points in 16 playoff appearances.

And he might have a chance to build on that campaign.

Per the Dispatch, the Blue Jackets expect Stenlund to play next year in Sweden, rather than try to make the move overseas. It’s possible the Isles could make the same decision with Soderstrom — meaning it’s not all bad for HV71.

 

Oilers re-sign Pakarinen for one year

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The Edmonton Oilers have given winger Iiro Pakarinen a one-year contract extension.

From the release:

Pakarinen just finished his third season with the Oilers organization, appearing in 14 regular season games in 2016-17, posting four points (2 goals, 2 assists).  The 25 year old forward missed 53 games due to an injury suffered during the pre-season. He appeared in one playoff game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Oilers brought Pakarinen over from Finland in 2014. Since then, he’s split his North American career between the AHL and NHL while drawing praise for his versatility and hard-nosed style.

Per CapFriendly, Pakarinen’s cap hit will be $750,000 in 2017-18. It’s a one-way deal.

Market heating up for prized Czech d-man Rutta

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Coming off an impressive performance for the Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, Jan Rutta is now being courted by a number of NHL clubs.

Per The Athletic, the Blackhawks are in contention for securing Rutta’s services. That comes on the heels of earlier reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger, who said there are “multiple” offers for the 26-year-old, including ones from Edmonton and Calgary.

“He’s a steady defenseman with size, and he had a strong finish of the season,” an NHL scout told The Athletic. “He was very good in the playoffs and played his best at the Worlds.”

Rutta, who was never drafted by an NHL club, has spent his professional career with Czech League outfit Pirati Chomutov. He’s blossomed into a talented offensive defenseman — finishing second among Czech League d-men with 32 points in 46 games this year — and, as mentioned above, has good size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.

Last week, Rutta’s agent — longtime Octagon Hockey representative Allan Walsh — tweeted that his client would make a decision on NHL offers soon.