Capitals, Ducks confront Game 7 demons vs. Penguins, Oilers

Capitals, Ducks confront Game 7 demons vs. Penguins, Oilers

Capitals, Ducks confront Game 7 demons vs. Penguins, Oilers

And they don't care.

Co-founder and CEO of the Waltham, Mass. -based Concussion Legacy Foundation Chris Nowinski told USA TODAY that the NHL's rule is "a poorly written policy that should be amended before the puck is dropped in another National Hockey League game".

Trotz has been saying since early in the series that the Capitals liked how they were playing, and now they finally getting rewarded for their play. Through the regular season and the playoffs combined, the Caps have scored only once at 4-on-4.

#2 - The Penguins have a long history of tormenting the Capitals.

Andre Burakovsky scored twice as the Washington Capitals thrashed the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 to level their Eastern Conference semi-final series on Monday. That's when the Penguins truly realized they could win a Stanley Cup.

Crosby played in Game 6 of a second-round matchup with the Washington Capitals on Monday and colliding head-first with the boards behind the Washington net in the first period. So I don't know if there is anything that we need to say.

The Capitals are as close as they've been to their first appearance in the conference finals in 19 years after rallying from a 3-1 series deficit by sprinting by Pittsburgh in the third period at home in Game 5 and then delivering a masterful performance 48 hours later in a city that's often been a burial ground for once-promising seasons. And here, against the defending Stanley Cup champions, they responded with all the qualities their predecessors have so frequently ceded to opponents - poise and patience, savvy, a self-assuredness that, frankly, was somewhat unsettling given the name across the front of their sweaters. Then he played the rest of the game with gusto, going head-to-head with the likes of Dmitri Orlov and Jay Beagle, giving every bit as good as he was getting, firm in the realization that he's a star player and he should simply expect to be targeted with the league having no intention of doing anything to protect him.

"He just wants to win with that group", Capitals coach Barry Trotz said on a Tuesday conference call.

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Jake Guentzel picked up his playoff-leading ninth goal and Evgeni Malkin added another 52 seconds later late in the third period to make the score look slightly better, but the Penguins were never in it. The Capitals controlled play throughout.

Crosby had been diagnosed with a concussion seven days earlier - at least the fourth of his career - that forced him to miss Game 4 and caused many to scrutinize whether the NHL's preeminent figure should ease back into the series to ensure full recovery.

Following Game 6, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was asked if his captain went through protocol, and he replied, "No". It was especially apparent on the sequence of events that led to Andre Burakovsky's short-sided goal on Penguins goaltender? Crosby took a nasty spill in the first period when he was slammed into the end boards head-first while he tangled with Carlson.

Crosby stayed in the game but his frustration was plain. I said Caps in 7 before the series started which hurts me to my core, but at this point, it seems warranted.

Now, not only do the Washington Capitals have the momentum, but they also have the advantage of home ice for Wednesday's Game 7. Kuznetsov quickly set up Oshie from the slot for a 1-0 lead at 12:41.

Winning breeds confidence. So while Washington is staring down another potential year where they came up short, blowing a 3-1 series lead might not affect Pittsburgh as much.

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

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