Then, they'll have to defeat the Penguins twice more after that or be eliminated in the second round again.
In reality, the Capitals blitzed the Penguins for most of the game, but Pittsburgh executed better. They've done it in all four games that have been played against Pittsburgh yet trail in the best-of-seven series 3-1. Some Penguins have hinted at their disapproval for Niskanen's hit, and others have outright stated that they found it dirty in nature. After dropping Game Four by a close margin, the Caps began searching for something to blame.
Game over. Series over? "He's a dominant player also and I'm really looking forward to seeing him go tomorrow". "I think the best way to make them pay is winning, and we did tonight". The two-time NHL MVP proved so valuable in the series, with two goals and two assists in the first two games against the Capitals.
"He's in the process of rehabbing", Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby, who is a two-time Hart Trophy recipient and a finalist this season. "We were able to score a couple, get early pace and we were able to bring it home and win the game", (see full recap). "For whatever reason, we didn't put them in". He and Patric Hornqvist and rookie Jake Guentzel were playing at another level, the best line in the league.
Ovechkin had as many shots on goal-two-as he did minor penalties. "It's kind of an amateur play by me there", said Oshie.
Top blueliner John Carlson was also called for a phantom rouging call.
Nicklas Backstrom did not record a shot on goal in 20:41. But if and when the captain returns, Sullivan indicated that he doesn't expect any downshifting in Crosby's offensive game, despite where the injury occurred on the ice.
Washington coach Barry Trotz called it "the right decision" while stressing the cross-check was "a hockey play". "Our backs are against the wall". "When he's been healthy we've had a rhythm, he gets into it defensively and has set a tone on the perimeter for us along with Kawhi (Leonard)". One more win an they're through and they've got three shots at it.
The Washington Capitals need a victory here in order to force a game six on Monday. On the third line, Lars Eller and Tom Wilson combined for nine shots on goal. That play could soon be added to the long list of bad Capitals memories from the playoff history between these two teams. Even though the Capitals possession numbers are dwarfing the Penguins, their inability to produce has left them out in the cold.
Washington is dominating play.
Give these Penguins credit. It's a been a big challenge for our group in this series. "There are lots of players who have had to hang up their skates or hang up their cleats because they didn't ever get over them".
The Penguins are masters of the counterattack, creating odd-man rushes and breakaways with their tremendous speed, skillful cross-ice passes, and some deadly finishes. Meanwhile, the Penguins will try to put the Caps down 3-1 in the series.
"My thoughts don't really matter", said Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, teammates with Crosby for over a decade.
"Nobody's happy about it", Fleury said. "I could talk for a while".
That was an emotionally turbulent time for the Penguins franchise that was $6.5 million in debt and trying - and failing - to avoid bankruptcy.
Down 3-1, the Caps know they are in an nearly impossible bind. They're not getting ahead of themselves, especially without Crosby.
"While Shooting Australia's focus is and must be the development of top-level athletes for the future, we will not turn our backs on someone who has been such a great servant of our sport and our country in the past", the association said.