The Capitals traveled back to Pittsburgh for Game Six with a chance to close out their Eastern Conference Semifinal series in enemy territory. After sixty minutes had solved nothing it was Evgeny Kuznetsov relieving the Capitals’ postseason woes.
Here’s Monday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: The Capitals showed up on time and played a strong first period. Through twenty minutes Washington led in shots (7 to 6) and hits (16 to 9), a great start on the road.
Minus: Absolutely nothing.
Nine more notes on the game.
- Washington was without second line center Nicklas Backstrom, the Swede falling injured in Game 5 with an upper body injury. A point-per-game player this series, the Capitals would miss Backstrom’s ice time and puck presence.
- Braden Holtby had to be brilliant late in the first period to keep the roof atop PPG Paints Arena. With the Penguins buzzing Holtby held his cool and calmly bailed his teammates out of trouble at least twice.
- In the second period Nathan Walker and Alex Chiasson connected for the former’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff point and the latter’s second career SCP goal. Walker walked around Matt Murray’s net with pace before putting the puck on a platter for Chiasson, who squeaked his shot between Murray and his left post.
- A few minutes later Jakub Vrana found himself in alone against Murray but Pittsburgh’s last line of defense denied Vrana with a swift blocker and stick.
- And a little past the contest’s midpoint Kris Letang banged home a Pittsburgh faceoff win to knot the game at one. Letang’s shot ricocheted off of Chandler Stephenson’s stick in the slot and caromed around Holtby’s right side.
- With momentum shifting to Pittsburgh’s side Holtby had to be excellent late in the frame again. In the last minute of the second period Hotlby had to deny both Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz from inside of fifteen feet.
- A seesaw third period saw the Capitals outshoot the Penguins 9 to 5 but both teams exchanged high quality offensive opportunities. No one could convert on their chances, though, so the teams prepared for overtime.
- Tonight marked Pittsburgh’s first overtime affair of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Washington’s fifth).
- Kuznetsov picked up a pass from Alex Ovechkin at center and he raced in against Murray, tucking the puck between the goaltender’s legs to end the series. Add in a Dmitry Orlov secondary helper for an all-Russian series clincher. Take that Don Cherry!
No one predicted this. No one expected this. Enjoy this year’s team fans.