Penguins Advance to Conference Finals
Resiliency has summed up this Penguins club over the last couple months.
Tonight they showed that critical element again in winning a game that Stanley Cup type teams do.
“What I have loved about this group is their resilience,” Mike Sullivan said of the Penguins regrouping from a disastrous third period and closing out the Capitals in overtime.
The Penguins started this game dictating the play with a speed game. They were doing what they wanted and got the first goal of the game from Phil Kessel beating Braden Holtby short side from 43 ft out.
In the second period, Pittsburgh took complete control of the game with power play goals from Kessel and Carl Hagelin 33 seconds apart off a Brooks Orpik four minute minor. Orpik was quite the goat in the series. He was on the ice for four of five goals against in the first two games, knocked out the Penguins worst defenseman this spring in Olli Maatta that probably benefited Pittsburgh more than Washington with how well Justin Schultz played in place of Maatta. Orpik’s suspension then forced the Capitals hand to play someone like Mike Weber in the series whose turnover in front cost the Capitals Game 4.
Tonight in Game 6, the Penguins were control for the first 35 minutes of the game, then had a bit of an implosion and bad luck over the latter half.
A bad Chris Kunitz penalty late in the second period gave Washington life and they capitalized on it with a T.J. Oshie goal, than in the third a defensive breakdown from Ben Lovejoy in not rotating down low saw Mr. Elimination game Justin Williams cut the Penguins lead to 3-2 just 7:23 into the third.
Then we know what played out next with three straight delay-of-game penalties and a fourth straight penalty with Kris Letang getting called for interference with 2:46 left in regulation.
The Penguins allowed just one shot on goal during the Letang penalty, an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot from 40 ft out. What you saw from the Penguins that Championship type teams do is rise to the occasion at a critical moment when the game was on the Capitals stick to win it.
What the Penguins did after the kill was regroup for overtime and completely dominate play in OT. Washington was saved by Jay Beagle 2:48 into overtime from this one ending earlier than it did and Pittsburgh was so good in overtime that it was only going to be a matter of time before they finished the Capitals off and they did capitalizing on a second chance opportunity from Nick Bonino at 6:32 of overtime.
— SERIES OVER, OFF TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS —
Pittsburgh out-attempted Washington 10-3 in overtime. The Penguins started the game like a team determined to close this one out and began overtime the same way.
That’s a great sign of a team that has an ‘IT’ factor about them.
“I know the leadership in our room was strong and we just went out in overtime and just started to play again,” Sullivan said of his team’s play in OT.
The Penguins won 4 of the 5 one-goal games in the this series and it came down to slightly better goaltending and better/more skilled depth. Nick Bonino was the best player in Game 1, highlighting the Penguins superior depth when it came to a skilled standpoint between the two teams and it was fitting that he ended the series.
“Stars sort of nullified each other,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said. “Really was the depth of their forwards. Hagelin line, Bonino……Really ended up being the difference.”
All of the focus on Crosby and Malkin coming into Game 6, they go pointless and Phil Kessel steps up with 2 goals, assist.
Meanwhile, for Matt Murray he starts his career 7-2 in the playoffs with three wins coming against Henrik Lundqvist and four against Braden Holtby. Other than Carey Price, there might not be a better goaltender in the league than Lundqvist or Holtby.
In a close-out game, Murray posted a .968 save percentage on 5 v 5 shots. Time to put an end to the Fleury talk.
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