National Hockey League explains why Sidney Crosby was not pulled from Game 6

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Neither would be a picnic, but based on regular season results, the Senators should probably be hoping the Pittsburgh Penguins knock off the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the other Eastern Conference semifinal Wednesday night. In Game 4, the Brian Dumoulin-Ron Hainsey defensive pairing spent nearly 10 minutes at even strength in Game 4 defending against Ovechkin's line. "Those are two different things". The Penguins reconfigured their lines, reuniting the HBK line of LW Carl Hagelin, C Nick Bonino and RW Phil Kessel that was highly effective previous year in the playoffs.

The Capitals were all over the Penguins in a Game 6 blowout.

This is the fourth time the two teams will meet in a winner-take-all.

It goes without saying, but the Penguins (or any hockey team for that matter) can not win without shooting the puck. Not that it bothers the Capitals.

John Carlson and T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals. "I don't know if I tripped on a stick or someone else".

Beating the Penguins emphatically 5-2 in Game 6 in Pittsburgh is why Boudreau believes the Capitals will win Game 7. If they want to have the chance to defend their Stanley Cup championship, they need to get back to what they do best. What better way to put all that behind him than by dominating to lift his team to a victory in Game 7? "We're having fun now. The fun part has been the obstacle".

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).

Meanwhile, Crosby has found himself in the center of controversy, as some wondered why he was allowed to continue to play after he crashed headfirst into the boards Monday, soon after suffering a concussion in Game 3. The move looked like a demotion, but Trotz assured the public it was an effort to spread the team's top scorers across three lines, much as the Penguins did last season with Phil Kessel on its third line.

Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin scored in the final four minutes.

None of it worked as Washington pushed the Penguins around.

He rose slowly to his feet, seemingly disoriented, but remained in the game.

"I've got to believe that (the momentum from Game 6 is) going to roll over, that they're finally sick and exhausted of hearing that they haven't gone to the third round and will break through", Boudreau said. They had a one-goal lead and 20 minutes standing between them and another Eastern Conference Finals appearance.

The story of the series has been: Washington will outshoot, outhit and command play against Pittsburgh, but Marc-Andre Fleury will steal a win.

This time, there would be no response by the Penguins.

And as bad as all that was, Pittsburgh fans, players and management can take the not-altogether hollow consolation that it could have been worse. "He's a mobile guy, he can skate, he can get back to pucks, he helps us get out of our end zone". In the losses, Fleury best save percentage came in game 3 when he posted a 90.9 save percentage.

Yet instead of simply trying to protect its advantage, Washington kept pressing. Just as the noose began to tighten in the third period, Holtby came up with a few key saves and suddenly Washington went from facing elimination to a 4-2 win.

"All it's going to take is all we have", Trotz said Sunday.

Going into game six, there is still reason to be optimistic. Chad Ruhwedel filled in. Washington is 3-3 at home this postseason; Pittsburgh is 3-2 on the road. The Penguins were 0 for 3.

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