Cam Tucker

Capitals crush Penguins to force Game 7

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The Washington Capitals were 20 minutes away from elimination in Game 5 of their second-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Two days later, the Capitals have forced a Game 7 against their rivals, on home ice back in Washington, too.

The Capitals’ disappointing playoff history has been a favorite narrative in this series, especially given the opponent, but now they have a chance to exorcise past memories with a comeback from a three-games-to-one deficit.

They were dominant against an otherwise listless Penguins team on Monday, leaving Pittsburgh with a 5-2 victory to even the series. Game 7 is scheduled for Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the NBC sports app). Make sure to plan your schedules accordingly.

It’s bad when a team like the Penguins, even though they have been outshot by a large margin already in this series, can only manufacture nine shots — nine shots! — on Braden Holtby through 40 minutes of play.

T.J. Oshie opened the scoring with a power play blast in the first period, and Andre Burakovsky — he has come alive after slumping through a large portion of the playoffs prior to Saturday’s Game 5 — found room on the short-side against Marc-Andre Fleury to increase the lead. But the dagger came just 16 seconds into the third period, as Nicklas Backstrom put Washington up by three.

It was 5-0 for Washington a few minutes later.

Fleury, who had been rock solid through four games in this series and these playoffs in general, has now given up eight goals in his last four periods. Although, you can’t pin Pittsburgh’s offensive struggles on the goalie.

For the Penguins, there are a few concerns heading into the deciding contest. Generating more offense would be a start, although that’s difficult to do with a defense that is struggling, particularly without Kris Letang or Trevor Daley in the lineup.

There should also be concern for Sidney Crosby.

The Penguins captain took a stick to the face early in the first period, stayed in the game, and then later went crashing dangerously head-first into the boards. Despite struggling back to his skates, Crosby remained on the ice for that shift and remained in the game, which raised plenty of eyebrows, given his concussion history that includes just such an injury suffered exactly one week ago on a cross check to the head.

An anxious few minutes for the Capitals, too. Evgeny Kuznetsov was hurt on an open-ice collision a minute into the third period. He briefly went down the tunnel but soon re-appeared on the bench.

Video: Sidney Crosby crashes head-first into the boards

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One week after suffering a concussion on a cross check to the face, Sidney Crosby went crashing head first into the end boards late in the opening period of Game 6.

The incident occurred as Crosby was chasing down a loose puck near the Capitals net. He came into contact with Braden Holtby‘s left pad, causing Crosby to crash heavily into the boards with two other players.

He was very slow getting back up, but he did stay on the ice for the remainder of the shift.

Prior to that, Crosby took an inadvertent stick to the face behind the net and was slow off the ice. He did get repairs at the bench and remained in the game.

Crosby suffered his latest concussion early in Game 3 of this series. He missed Game 4 entirely, but returned for Game 5 after coach Mike Sullivan announced his star player had passed the baseline concussion test.

Per PHT’s Adam Gretz, Crosby has come back out for the second period.

Report: John Tavares underwent hand surgery after regular season

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John Tavares‘ regular season came to an abrupt conclusion at the end of March due to a lower-body injury.

It appears the Islanders star forward and captain was also dealing with a hand injury that was finally operated on last month, according to a report from Arthur Staple of Newsday.

From Long Island Newsday:

The Islanders captain had the surgery a week after the season ended to fix an issue that lingered through much of the season, the sources confirmed. His hand is still in a cast, which is scheduled to be off next week, giving Tavares ample time to go through his rigorous offseason training without missing any time, the sources said. He has already had one follow-up visit and his hand is recovering on schedule, according to the sources.

The latter portion of that report at least sounds promising for the beginning of next season, although Tavares’ future with the Islanders will likely continue under the microscope.

Now 26 years old, Tavares is about to enter the final year of his current six-year, $33 million deal that comes with a $5.5 million cap hit, but reports have suggested that he will be in line for a significant raise — and term — with a potential new deal. He will be eligible to sign a new deal with the Islanders on July 1. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2017-2018 season.

He had 28 goals and 66 points in 77 games with the Islanders this season. He has reiterated in the recent past that he wants to get a deal done with the Islanders.

Former Canadiens owner John David Molson dies at 88

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The Montreal Canadiens announced Monday that the team’s former president and owner John David Molson has passed away at the age of 88.

The Habs won five Stanley Cup titles during Molson’s tenure as president, from 1964 to 1972.

He had previously joined Molson Breweries Limited in 1949, before eventually being named vice-president of the company in 1964.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals – Pittsburgh Penguins Game 6

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The Washington Capitals will look to force a Game 7 against the Penguins in this second-round series when the two bitter rivals meet Monday in Game 6 from Pittsburgh.

The Penguins hold a 3-2 series lead, but are coming off a 4-2 loss Saturday in Washington, as the Capitals managed to stay alive.

Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Related links:

Trotz’s changes must keep working for Capitals

Penguins notes: Malkin needs to hold on to the puck; HBK Line back together

Game 6: Penguins won’t have Daley, who was run over by Wilson on Saturday

Pens-Caps delivers strong ratings for NBC