Published: Tue, May 23, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Capitals look to complete comeback, expect 'desperate' Penguins


A surging Capitals team hitting its stride vs. a Penguins team looking to dig deep for one more win and see what happens from there.

THE NEDVED GAME: While Washington's 1996 first-round series against Pittsburgh lasted just six games, in many ways it's symbolic of the club's inability to close. And we still have our back against the wall.

For the Capitals, that means more production from Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, and strong goaltending from Braden Holtby when the puck drops for Game 7 against the Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Pittsburgh needs goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to play significantly better in Game 7. Their last Game 7 victory at home came in the first round in 2009 with Boudreau behind the bench when Sergei Fedorov scored the victor to knock off the Rangers.

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After giving up another late lead before losing in overtime again on the road, the Rangers return home needing a win in Game 6 on Tuesday night to avoid elimination in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against Ottawa.

It will be a memorable night for Washington sports standards, as the Washington Wizards play at the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in the NBA and the Washington Nationals host the Baltimore Orioles in MLB's battle of the Beltways.

"Felt fine. Just kind of knocked the wind out of me, but felt fine". It would in effect tell the huge pink elephant in the room no one wants to acknowledge to go away and never come back.

"Certainly in the series, the explosion we had in [Game 5] in the third was a good confidence boost, and I think we played a really good game [Monday]". In those nine Game 7s, Ovechkin has three goals and three assists, and at the moment he is earning praise from teammates and coach Barry Trotz in this series for accepting a demotion to the third line. A three-time Cup victor, Williams is 7-0 with seven goals and seven assists in seven chances in Game 7.

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Washington's bounce-back came after a disheartening 3-2 loss to the Pens in Game 4 in Pittsburgh a week ago.

With nearly the entire team back from last year's Stanley Cup run, the Penguins have plenty of experience to draw on, especially when it comes to playing with their backs against the wall. Alexander Burakovsky has elevated his play over the past two games. The NHL did this because players are obstinate and stubborn and singularly focused on playing the game.

Players didn't say they'd solved Fleury - but the Capitals have been able to score from angles that previously weren't available. Against the Maple Leafs, he allowed 14 goals in the first four games, before giving up just two goals in the final two. I think what you're talking about is the difference between checking with a doctor and entering the concussion protocol. The fifth is when a player is "slow to get up" or "clutches his head". There are expectations that the Capitals should advance. Ottawa leads the best-of-seven series 3-2.

"At least the Caps have given you a glimmer of hope, something to root for", he said. "It was a fun one tonight for us, but we definitely have to regroup and get refocused on the start for Game 7". It's important to stay focused on the next game and not worry about if you won or lost the last one, you move on and you put all your effort into the next one. It wasn't quite the first period we wanted, but the last 40 [minutes] were really good for us. We know that we're going to have to play probably our best game of the series to beat them in the seventh game at home.

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