The Buzzer: Capitals bump Penguins; Predators stay alive

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Getting over the hump, getting to Game 7

Capitals 2, Penguins 1 [OT] (Capitals win series 4-2)

Call it later than expected or the right time, but the Washington Capitals finally got the best of the Pittsburgh Penguins in a contemporary series. The overtime-clincher seemed to fit the mood of things, too: Alex Ovechkin was on the ice, setting up Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s series-winner, while Sidney Crosby was on the other side, seeing his team’s push for a third consecutive title end. It wasn’t always the prettiest contest in Game 6, but the result was as pretty as anything Washington’s seen in sports in some time. Ovechkin & Co. finally beat the Penguins, and finally made it to the third round.

Predators 4, Jets 0 (Series tied 3-3)

Three of the four second-round series have been decided, but fear not, for we’ll get a Game 7 (on NBCSN on Thursday).

This contest was often closer than the 4-0 score would indicate, but Pekka Rinne was on the top of his game and the Predators’ first line was absolutely sensational. Filip Forsberg generated two beautiful goals and generously assisted on an empty-netter. That empty-netter was the cherry on top for Viktor Arvidsson, who also scored the 1-0 tally that would be the game-winner (not to mention an assist). Ryan Johansen also added two helpers of his own.

The Predators refused to see their season end, and now the Vegas Golden Knights’ third-round opponent will be determined by a winner-takes-all battle in Game 7. Expect fireworks and probably some catfish.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Three Stars

1. Predators top line, featuring Forsberg – Let’s cheat and lump all three into the first star category. Forsberg’s goals were so sensational that you can call him the top star and Arvidsson second if you want to be a real stickler about it.

Either way, Forsberg’s not going to be an “under the radar” star much longer if he continues to dominate the highlight reels night after night.

2. Pekka Rinne, Predators – Again, you might look at the 4-0 score and assume that it was a fairly easy day at the office for Rinne, who bounced back from a rough Game 5.

Rinne had to earn that rebound. The towering Finn made all 34 saves for a shutout with his team’s season on the line, blunting a dangerous Winnipeg Jets offense and silencing that crowd. The Jets received three power-play chances in the first period, yet instead of putting Nashville in an early hole, Rinne helped the Predators maintain that early lead after Arvidsson’s goal.

3. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals – Hey, when you score the goal that officially puts the Capitals over the top against the Penguins, you probably deserve a spot in the three stars. Kuznetsov had his chances earlier in Game 6, but to no avail, sometimes maddeningly so.

Some players sulk and fall off the map. Kuznetsov kept plugging away, and when Ovechkin sprung him for a breakaway in overtime, Kuznetsov scored one of the biggest Capitals goals in recent memory. Quite a nice way to help Washington recover from the loss of Nicklas Backstrom, its other key center.

Factoids

Not much solace for Sidney Crosby, but he moved up the all-time rankings with an assist in Game 6:

Yes, this is a big deal for Washington … not just the Capitals.

A reminder that it’s tough to shut down the Jets, but even more unlikely to blank them at home.

This P.K. Subban factoid might be a bit … anecdotal?

Break point

Game 7 between the Predators and Jets won’t take place until Thursday (at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday). That’s a bummer for sure, but maybe spend time with your picnic, walk your dog, wash some dishes …

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.