Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Penguins just now finding their groove going into East final

Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) scores a goal past Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) during the second period of Game 7 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinal, Wednesday, May 10, 20.

After going down 3-1 in the series, Washington kept its Stanley Cup dreams alive after winning Games 5 and 6, only to fall in Game 7 by a score of 2-0. The shot hit the shaft of Marc-Andre Fleury's goal stick, and the goalie grinned afterwards and rubbed the spot when it hit with affection.

Retaliation is not on Marc Methot's mind as the Ottawa Senators prepare to take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL Eastern Conference Final. They will have the home-ice-advantage against Ottawa in the Eastern finals. "I thought once they got their second that point we didn't have the structure that would give us a chance to get back in". After storming back from a 3-1 deficit against the Penguins to force a Game 7, Wednesday's do-or-die game was disappointing.

It was as complete a game as Pittsburgh has had through two rounds, even though it was without injured defenseman Trevor Daley and winger Carl Hagelin.

During the game's first few minutes, it seemed as if Washington was on a power play, maintaining control of the puck in its offensive zone. "Whether it be the Presidents' Trophy or a Game 7 overtime win or whatever".

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The Penguins have proved they can rise to any challenge, no matter how big.

"I think for me, all that's behind me and I'm just focused on the series and focused on the Penguins and that's going to be the goal for me moving forward", Methot said Thursday.

“You nearly wonder how much disappointment youve got to put yourself through before you can find a way to get the job done, ” said T.J. Oshie. "That doesn't guarantee anything".

When it mattered most, the Capitals didn't get them. Anaheim hadn't won a Game 7 since 2006, when they were still the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. "We actually started to play better once they scored, and we got another one and then we kind of brought it home with good defensive hockey". "They believe in their group and the way they play, and it'll be a good test for us". They first beat the team with the fourth-most points in the regular season (Columbus Blue Jackets) before eliminating Washington which racked up the most points. Overall, that's an average of 1.4 goals allowed per game in postseason play. It took the 2013 conference semifinal in five games and scored 21 goals in those four wins. "And this guy is a battle-tested guy".

The Capitals captain made no mention of an injury during the playoffs.

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"Last year, we were in a close game, played well in Game 6 and ... overtime,"said Holtby". Several teams would have dumped the puck repeatedly while getting badly outshot in such circumstances. Washington went up 3-1, then saw its best season ever come undone at the hand of unheralded Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak. "We trust ourselves in here".

This should not come as a total surprise to anyone who watched Alexander Ovechkin disappear for stretches in the Capitals' seven-game series loss to Pittsburgh: Dude was ailing. Some faint applause. This was the end of a series, the end of a Game 7 loss - yes, yet another Game 7 loss by the Washington Capitals - and, seemingly, the end of an era. Sidney Crosby recorded three points in that win, which propelled the Penguins to a Stanley Cup victory that season.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz declined to discuss Ovechkin at length after their latest exit.

"I expect the same questions over and over again when you lose", said centre Nicklas Backstrom, before a Washington TV reporter saw him leaving the arena hugging his father, in tears.

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