Monday night, the Caps came back to tie their second round series by beating the Pens 5-2, forcing a Game Seven. Let me emphasize that: the series is tied. For once this postseason, the game was chock full of scoring highlights for the Caps. The scoring was taken care of mostly by the big guns again, with Andre Burakovsky exploding for a two-goal night (just after scoring his first of the playoffs last game), Nicklas Backstrom scoring a crucial insurance goal, TJ Oshie nabbing his first of the series, and Braden Holtby turning in a strong performance. Despite a couple of late (and meaningless) tallies against, this team is ready for Wednesday night.
The Caps outscored and out-possessed the Pens by a good margin, but more than that they played the brand of positional shutdown defense that harkens back to their regular season dominance. The Pens were limited to only 31 shot attempts at five-on-five (the Caps had 40) and 13 scoring chances. That’s tied for the fewest scoring chances allowed this postseason and the second fewest shot attempts allowed.
WSH-PIT G6. Pens didn’t show up. pic.twitter.com/W730skVS9g
— Muneeb Alam (@muneebalamcu) May 9, 2017
Let’s go with Alex Ovechkin here. He didn’t have a standout game per se, but he was tenth on the team in five-on-five ice time, with just 11:40. Overall, he was eighth on the team in total ice time, and fifth among forwards, so he made up some of the gap on the power play and at four-on-four. But to take a more “depth” role with the hope of causing matchup chaos for the Pens is a very captain-ly thing to do. And while we have to question (once again) whether Ovi having less five-on-five ice time than Tom Wilson is a smart move, it seems to be working so let’s follow the Captain’s lead and go with it.
It’s interesting to see how the view of the process changes when the goals and bounces generally go the Caps’ way. It’s impossible to say whether the Caps ever truly deserved to be down 3-1 in this series, but they have clearly done some things to help themselves these last two games. They have significantly slowed things down, which plays to their favor and would’ve been many pundits’ “key to the series” for the Caps beforehand. In the six games so far, total five-on-five shot attempts have gone as follows: 104, 103, 80, 84, 93, 71. Last night was the lowest event game of the series, and the Caps will want to keep controlling the pace come Wednesday night, just the way they like it.
Stats courtesy of Corsica.Hockey and NaturalStatTrick.
Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI.
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