Sport Penguins and Capitals have been here many times before

19:21  25 april  2017
19:21  25 april  2017 Source:   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Johansson's OT goal gives Capitals series win at Toronto

  Johansson's OT goal gives Capitals series win at Toronto Marcus Johansson stuffed his second goal of the game past Frederik Andersen at 6:31 of overtime, lifting the Washington Capitals t to a series-winning 2-1 victory ove the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6 on Sunday night. Johansson pulled Washington even at 1-1 with less than eight minutes to go in the third period after Auston Matthews broke a scoreless tie with his fourth goal of the series for Toronto. It was the fifth overtime game of the series, and the record-setting 18th in the first round of the playoffs.

But, because this series has ultimately been about two equally good teams battling it out, the Capitals took advantage of bad penalties by the Penguins and scored three unanswered goals, by T.J The Capitals have been here all too many times before and certainly so has captain Alex Ovechkin.

Here ’s a look at how they got to this point. Before their time . 1992 division semifinals: A year removed from being run off the ice in five games against the Penguins in 1991, the Capitals took a 3-1 series lead.

Stunning things happen during the Stanley Cup playoffs every year, and 2017 has been no exception.

Who foresaw Nashville limiting Chicago’s high-octane offense to three goals in four games?

Or the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 finishers in the regular-season standings being jettisoned in Round 1?

Or Boston accumulating five delay-of-game minors in its final two games against Ottawa?

Not everything, however, is chaotic and unpredictable in the spring.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby excelling on both ends of ice

  Penguins captain Sidney Crosby excelling on both ends of ice To aid the Penguins’ pursuit of a second consecutive Stanley Cup title— something that hasn’t happened in the NHL since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998 — coach Mike Sullivan consulted the last bench boss to do it, Scotty Bowman, and picked his brain.Sidney Crosby has gone a different route. Crosby hasn’t arranged a face-to-face meeting with Steve Yzerman, his equal on those Red Wings teams. But Crosby has played a lot like the NHL player he grew up idolizing most, honing a two-way game that’s better than you might expect for a player of his skill, one that has bubbled to the surface on numerous occasions this postseason.

The Capitals open the 2016 NHL regular season in Pittsburgh against the rival Penguins . The reigning Stanley Cup champions will hoist their newest banner before getting the season started. Here is everything you need to know.

It will be the third playoff meeting between center Crosby's Penguins and left wing Ovechkin's Capitals , with Pittsburgh winning in the second round in 2009 and last year, each time on the way to capturing the title. "We've worked all year to get back into this position and now we ' re here .

Exhibit A: The Penguins are preparing to face Washington in a best-of-seven series, beginning at 7:38 p.m. Thursday at Verizon Center. It will be the 10th time these clubs have collided in the playoffs.

“You kind of expected that we’d probably see each other at some point,” Penguins center Sidney Crosby said.

The Penguins earned their spot in the second round by eliminating Columbus in five games; Washington got there by beating Toronto in six.

They were pitted against each other so early because the NHL playoff format assures that the top three teams (at least) in each division will share a playoff bracket. The Capitals and Penguins not only finished 1-2 in the Metropolitan Division, but also in the overall standings.

“You have to beat good teams to move on,” Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz said. “It’s one of those rivalries that keeps coming up.”

Crosby, Bobrovsky, McDavid named Hart Trophy finalists

  Crosby, Bobrovsky, McDavid named Hart Trophy finalists Two-time Hart Trophy winner Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday was named one of three finalists for the annual award that goes to the player who is deemed most valuable to his team. The other finalists are Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid.Crosby, who was facing the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series on Monday night, also was a finalist for the award won by Chicago's Patrick Kane last season. A six-time finalist, Crosby previously won the award in the 2006-07 and 2013-14 seasons.

Penguins vs. Capitals . Ovechkin vs. Crosby. The hatred felt sort of manufactured before , but realignment helps this rivalry feel more real. Here are all 17 Big 12 expansion candidates.

And one that consistently has played out in the Penguins’ favor. They have won eight of the previous nine meetings, the lone exception being 1994.

How much, if at all, the Penguins’ history against Washington will help them in this series is conjecture, because any flaws the Capitals have didn’t prevent them from constructing a 55-19-8 record in the regular season.

“They were first place in the league for a reason,” Crosby said.

Quite a few, actually.

The Capitals are deep and balanced, both up front and on defense. Goalie Braden Holtby is a Vezina Trophy finalist. There are gifted forwards like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, and guys like Ovechkin,Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik, who can hit hard enough to bruise a slab of granite.

“They excel at a lot of things,” Kunitz said.

Mind you, the Penguins didn’t reach the second round because they won a coin toss.

They ran Columbus, which placed third in the overall standings, out of the playoffs largely on the strength of a flash-powder offense and some excellent work by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Crosby, Bobrovsky, McDavid named Hart Trophy finalists

  Crosby, Bobrovsky, McDavid named Hart Trophy finalists Two-time Hart Trophy winner Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday was named one of three finalists for the annual award that goes to the player who is deemed most valuable to his team. The other finalists are Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid.Crosby, who was facing the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series on Monday night, also was a finalist for the award won by Chicago's Patrick Kane last season. A six-time finalist, Crosby previously won the award in the 2006-07 and 2013-14 seasons.

Here ’s a look at how they got to this point. Before their time . 1992 division semifinals: A year removed from being run off the ice in five games against the Penguins in 1991, the Capitals took a 3-1 series lead.

While we wait, here 's a few more notes going into the game. Last season the Penguins swept the season series (3-0) against the Capitals for the first time since 2006-07 (4-0). Team Scope: Penguins : Pittsburgh has been struggling to score goals of late, but there may have finally been a

“[The Capitals] are a deep team, with good goaltending,” Penguins winger Bryan Rust said. “We’re a deep team with good goaltending.”

And some pretty fast legs, which might be the Penguins’ greatest asset in this series. They will, as always, stress a skating game.

“We want to make sure we can focus on the way we play our game and not get caught up playing their style,” Kunitz said. “Our game is to put pucks behind [opposing defensemen], play with speed.”

This time, though, they might want to start playing their game a bit earlier. They survived sluggish starts against the Blue Jackets, but Washington scored eight of its 16 Round 1 goals in the opening period.

“We have to be a little better in the first,” Rust said.

Probably in the second, third and overtime, too, because the survivor of this series figures to be the favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

“We have a lot of respect for Washington, how good they are,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “We know we’re going to have to be our very best.”

Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.

Paul Zeise: Stop with the Penguins-Capitals conspiracy theories .
I’m all for good conspiracy theories, but the ones flying around the Penguins over the past few days would make Oliver Stone blush. Matt Niskanen hit Crosby in what is a very routine play that happens quite often in hockey games. It was a dirty hit and a free shot at a vulnerable player, but it wasn’t over the top or even close to one of the most malicious plays I’ve seen in NHL games.

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