They're not just comfortable but able to take a lead - and build on it. Anyone who watched Crosby go headfirst into the boards late in the first period of Game 6 against the Washington Capitals had a hard time understanding how the concussion spotters, both at the PPG Paints Arena and in the player safety room in NY, could not have immediately ordered him off the Penguins' bench and off the ice for further observation. The series is even for the first time since it started, and it's up to the Penguins to respond. We took a deep breath and we kind of regrouped ourselves and said, 'Let's go after it in Game 5.' And it took until the third period of Game 5 to get going and get rewarded for it.
The Senators faced Capitals' backup Philipp Grubauer in the third meeting and while he gave up goals to Chris Ryan, Chris Kelly and Zack Smith, Condon made 31 saves in a 3-0 shutout. It's safe to say those bounces favoured the Caps in Game 6 and ended up behind Marc-Andre Fleury. They had a one-goal lead and 20 minutes standing between them and another Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
The Penguins' best likely would include more scoring chances. "They're going to have to be all in", Washington coach Barry Trotz said Sunday during a conference call with reporters.
Consider that the shaky goalie was once Washington's Braden Holtby, yanked after two periods of the second game.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, most assumed that the NHL's concussion "spotters" had failed to recognize a potential head injury for Crosby, especially considering this came just one game after he had returned from a concussion suffered earlier in the series that caused him to miss Game 4. Today, Ovechkin's shot on the breakaway that was stopped by Fleury's glove is the indelible image of him in a Game 7 against a rival, not necessarily the three goals he has scored in nine career Game 7s. What happened next depends on whom you talk to. Edmonton and Anaheim are tied, 3-3, in their series after the Oilers dominated Game 6. Those Caps arrived home with all sorts of momentum and anticipation, and they were simply overwhelmed in a 6-2 Penguins victory. He shows up for every big moment. Is this version any different?
"I don't know whether from coaching or playing whether you get into a mental block or not", said Bruce Boudreau, who coached in Game 7 four times with the Capitals and four times with the Ducks. It's our turn to serve, and holding serve means that we go on. "They're going to bring it".
The Penguins are trying to become the first team to successfully defend their Stanley Cup title since the 1997-98 Red Wings.
This is the fourth time the Penguins and Capitals will meet in a Game 7.
We've long since traveled through that phase, and painfully. They're trained from young ages to withstand pain and put forth their best effort on the ice. How in the world? It looked like another premature playoff exit for Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals. The only things at stake are the star player's legacy and his franchise's cursed fate.
It looked far worse, though a few minutes later when Crosby skated straight up the middle of the ice to chase a puck that went behind the Washington net. For once, they have to do it.