Washington can't afford to go down 0-2 in the series before it shifts to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4. "We did that in the first round and we're going to have to continue to do it moving forward". We have to earn it. We've got a lot of guys chipping in.
After 20 minutes, the Capitals found themselves in a familiar, uneasy position.
The postseason had been miserable for Connolly a year ago. During the regular season, he accounted for 42 goals and 56 assists in 78 games played.
But even if Vrana's ice time remains limited, his skill set could make an impact. This playoff run has taken an opposite arc.
The Caps may have gotten a break during that crucial third period. They finished first in the Metropolitan division this season above the Pens and have the most complete team that they have in years.
It is, however, worth noting the Penguins scored their lone goal on a four-on-four. As the two teams approached the midway point of that stanza, Sidney Crosby passed the puck from behind the net, and Patric Hornqvist was able to jam it to the goal line, and a portion of the black disc made it over the line.
Jay Beagle, who missed Game 1 against Columbus due to injury, is valued for his efficiency in the faceoff circle and play on the penalty kill. I think he's doing a really good job. Despite that and the fact that Wilson has taken up a top-line role with the Capitals this season, it is undeniable that he is widely perceived outside of the Washington fanbase as little more than a goon.
Instead of letting the Capitals score 17 seconds into the game, they waited until a whole 1:26 in before letting Alex Ovechkin snap a shot from the high-slot home for yet another early lead.
The Ovechkin-Crosby storyline is destined to be headline material every single time these two teams square off, of course, as any meeting between the Capitals and Penguins offers up a head-to-head between the two brightest lights of the post-lockout era, a fight for supremacy among two of the game's all-time superstars.
"Obviously, he's a top player".
Sullivan went out of his way after the game that Malkin had not suffered a setback of any kind and was just continuing in his recovery process. Murray had time to recover after the contact from Connolly while that contact did not really alter his ability to stop the puck.
"We just have to be smart", Oleksiak said. Less than two minutes into the game, Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov and Hornqvist raced for a puck that had slid into Pittsburgh's zone. His adversary Matt Murray, though he has allowed three first-period goals, has also made timely saves, especially late in games (most notably Game 1). They are outshooting teams 10-2 in those first periods.
Then, with five seconds left in a power play, rookie Jakub Vrana maneuvered through three Pittsburgh sticks to get to the front of the net and beat Murray glove side.