Capitals Rout Penguins, Knot Series at 3-3 – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Capitals Rout Penguins, Knot Series at 3-3

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse for our Penguins, they did.

In a stinko performance, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Mike Sullivan took over as coach, the Pens were throttled by Washington in Game Six. The disheartening 5-2 defeat evened the Second Round series at 3 games apiece and set up a Game Seven showdown in Washington on Wednesday night.


The final score—muted to a degree by a pair of late goals from Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin long after the outcome had been decided—didn’t fully reflect the lopsided nature of the action. The Capitals, who appeared to score almost at will, were vastly superior in nearly every aspect of the game.

It truly was a night of horrors for an exhausted Penguins squad and the 18,594 disappointed patrons in attendance. The faithful settled into their seats at PPG Paints Arena anticipating a Rembrandt, or at the very least, a Picasso. Instead, they were forced to view a finger painting of an effort from their heroes, a crude one at that.

Following a rousing opening shift, the locals—visibly worn—struggled to establish any offensive zone time, let alone register a shot on goal. While the Pens labored to keep pace, the high-flying Caps grabbed the lead on a power-play tally by T.J. Oshie.

As if to punctuate a dreadful opening period, captain Sidney Crosby took a stick to the nose and later hurtled head-first into the end boards following a three-way collision with Caps defenseman John Carlson and linemate Patric Hornqvist.

Miraculously, No. 87 shook off the blow and remained in the game. It was, perhaps, the only thing to go right for the Pens on this ugliest of nights.

Having survived Sid’s scary tumble and the rocky first period, the Pens finally began to mount an attack through the opening minutes of the second frame. The power surge, brief as it was, was short-circuited by a ghastly Ron Hainsey giveaway near the seven-minute mark.

Afforded an opportunity to clear the zone, the veteran defender inexplicably turned back toward his goal and was knocked to the ice by Andre Burakovsky, in the process coughing up the puck. The swift-skating Austrian sped straight to the net and beat Marc-Andre Fleury, who appeared to stop the initial shot before spinning and pulling his right pad off the post.

The crowd groaned in unison.

To quote NBCSN analyst Mike Milbury, “That was all she wrote.”

The Pens did manage a bit of sustained pressure in the closing minutes of the second period. However, any hopes for a glorious comeback were quickly dashed 16 seconds into the final frame.

Ian Cole tried to force the puck to Crosby in the neutral zone and, instead, turned it over to Nicklas Backstrom. Sailing into the Pens’ zone on a 2-on-1, Backstrom faked a look to Burakovsky and beat Fleury with a sizzler high to the glove side.

The Caps proceeded to use “Flower” for gunnery practice until Guentzel and Malkin foiled Braden Holtby’s shutout bid in the closing minutes.

Sort of like applying lipstick to a pig.


Washington held an edge in shot attempts (51-38), shots on goal (26-18) and hits (38-32). The Penguins controlled the faceoff circle (36-33).

The Capitals converted on 2 of 4 power-play opportunities; the Pens were 0-for-3 with the man advantage. The black and gold committed 11 turnovers.

Chad Ruhwedel played in his first NHL playoff game, replacing the injured Trevor Daley. The native Californian registered three shots on goal, a hit and a blocked shot in 13:14 of ice time. He finished minus-1.

Cole (minus-3) had a tough game. The normally stout defenseman blocked three shots, but committed a game-high four giveaways.

The series finale will be played at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night. The Penguins are 3-0 in Game Sevens against the Capitals, 2-0 on the road. They defeated the Caps, 3-1, in Landover on May 1, 1992, and 6-2 at the Verizon Center on May 13, 2009.

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  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    May 9, 2017 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Hey Guys
    Ottawa beats New York tonight.
    They move on. Really thought that the Rangers would take it.
    Good news is when we WIN tommorrow Ottawa plays an easy, up tempo game and not as physical as the Rangers. Should be good for us.
    One small problem. We need to win our next game.
    Let’s go Pen’s.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 9, 2017 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      Well said, Jim … 🙂

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 10, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

      Just read an article on the NHL website.

      Apparently Guentzel and Rust skated with Crosby on the first line, Kessel was back with Malkin, and Rowney joined a demoted Hagelin on the 4th line. That was all the article stated. It didn’t say who skated on the 3rd line or who was skated on Malkin’s other wing ONly other thing; Kuhnhackl was odd man out.

      Oh and it quoted Cole as saying several changes need to be made “I think we could’ve been better in just about every game we’ve played this series,” Cole said. “I don’t think it’s just one thing. So we’ll have to reassess what we want to do and go from there.”

      That’s an understatement.

      I had come to trust Sullivan, but I am unsure about these moves. I really think Hagelin needs to sit.

      However, I do hope that Sully made the right adjustments, he usually does.

  2. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    May 9, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rick,
    None of us ever expected to be here. I do not mean a game 7 because you and several others predicted the same. What I am referring to is the way we lost games 5 and especially game 6. Last night was a complete blow out by the Caps against the Pens and most of us are still in shock over it.
    The boys look tired last night with very little emotion to their game. After the 3rd goal, they just gave up. Our third and fourth lines that were the strength and key to our success last year were not there last night either.
    To win a game 7, which I believe we can the boys have to leave it all out on the ice meaning do not sit back and try to win by watching the Caps make a mistake and then try to score.We have to open it up and see if the Caps can keep pace. Probably a 5-4 game in the end. I would put Hornqvist back with Crosby and move Sheary.
    Hagelin does not play either and that bodes the question why are we paying him 3-4 million ?
    Your also right there is no Murray to fall back on so MAF is going to have his best game of his life !

    Lets go Pen’s.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      May 9, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      To be sure the last 2-games have been beyond disappointing, however, there still is hope. Let’s face it the Caps haven’t won yet and if the Pens can get a couple of quick breaks the Gorilla hops right back on their back.

      Also, despite only giving up 2-goals, Holtby has sbeen very beatable all series. The only reason the Caps held the Pens to just 2-goals is because the Pens only got 18 shots.

      I read an article on the PG yesterday predicting that the goalies were going to be the difference. Neither goalie was a factor. They both were bad. Holtby was saved by the Caps team effort.

      And yes, you are right, there is no Murray to fall back on, but although MAF has been a Jekyll and Hyde all season and has had a couple of back to back Hyde games, he could just have one more Jekyll game up his sleeve.

      One last ray of hope, under Sully the Pens have not been prone to too many losing streaks. I would like to think that Sully will have the boys on fire for game 7.

      I am not going to make any predictions, just hope and pray.

      I am not yet ready to start thinking about the Expansion Draft, The Regular Draft, and FA yet.

      Come on Pens, you have the most prolific O, lean on it. Open it up and turn Holby into a turnstile.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 9, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      A big amen, Jim.

      I usually have some sense or feel for how I think a series will go. But I honestly had no idea about this one, which is why I picked it to go seven games.

      When we took Games 1 and 2 in Washington, I almost felt silly for being so concerned about the Caps. Unfortunately, my initial trepidation proved to be well-founded.

      Perhaps if we’d been playing better, I wouldn’t be so concerned. But, performance-wise, we’re a shell of the team we were last spring.

      I have absolutely no idea what’s up with Hagelin. His offensive skills seem to have evaporated over the summer. I think he’s an easy decision to sit for Game 7.

      I’d really like to see Archibald play. And not just the 5 or 6 minutes Sullivan meted out to Wilson and Rowney a couple of games back. We need a spark, and I think he could help provide it.

      I’d dress Wilson, too. I’m not 100 percent sure who else I’d sit. While I love Kunitz’ grit, I don’t think he’s got anything left, offensively. So maybe Kuny.

      The only silver lining in the admittedly dark cloud? Having had their way in Game 6, maybe the Caps will let down a little.

      And the Pens? Nowhere to go but up (hopefully).


  3. May 9, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff Rick, A couple of quick thoughts:

    Kind of Reiterating what “tOR” is saying, it’s time to yank Hagelin and re-insert Wilson. The Pens have lost 3 of four I believe with Hagelin and do not need his unmotivated 9 minutes as much as the need Wilson’s motivation.

    It’s time to put the lines back together especially the top two. The Guentzel on Malkins line was a downright stupid idea which Crosby proved with a few minutes left.

    This is how they should line up.

    While Hainsey ended up even for the game, it was still his non clearing attempt that took any wind out of the Penguins sails that they had. Defense is not that complicated, get the puck out of the zone first then get fancy. Force a bad pass down to the other teams blue line if you must, just get it out.

    The Fans last night sucked. I was not there. Did you notice all of the people in the lower bowl that couldn’t be bothered to show their support by wearing the free gold shirt were the first ones to exit the building when the going got tough. These were not True Penguins fans, these were people with lots of money who buy tickets for 3-4 times ticket price so they can post on Facebook that they were at the game. I heard maybe one Lets go Pens cheer get started the whole game. Good fans motivate the players.

    It’s looking ugly right now, but the Pens can still win this.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 9, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Hey Phil,

      I agree with nearly all of your suggestions. Go with your bread-and-butter combinations, Guentzel-Crosby-Sheary and Malkin-Kessel, and flesh things out from there.

      Hagelin definitely sits in my book. I’d like to dress Wilson and Archibald, and maybe even Rowney, too. They worked really well together the last couple of weeks of the regular season.

      Other Rick mentioned this a lot in the past, and it bears repeating. Part of the reason we won last year was because Sullivan wasn’t afraid to play the kids.

      This year? While I certainly understand the draw toward veterans who’ve been there before, I think we’ve perhaps overlooked the benefits that a little youthful enthusiasm can bring. Especially a fast, feisty kid like Archibald.


      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        May 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Hey Rick, Phil, and Jim,

        After reading Jims post above with your reply and Phil’s post, you guys have had me thinking. I was going to place this a separate comment but I think it all ties together.

        In baseball they have the RAR and WAR stats, I am not all that sure exactly how these stats are calculated but it seems to me that if there was a RAR/WAR stat in Hockey, the differences between Hagelin, Kunitz, Bonino and Wilson, Rowney, and Archibald would be equivical. With all the veteran leadership that Crosby, Malkin, Cullen, Hornqvist, and Kessel there is no allure for more veterans for my money. Especially when they look as tired and slow or uniterested as those players have looked.

        I won’t argue if you say that in Bonino’s and Kunitz’s case that they may be injured or exhausted from playing as hard as they have. Bonino has been one of the leading shot blockers all season and as old as he is Kunitz throws his body around with reckless abandon as if he were still 25. And for all we know Hagelin is nursing his injury too. Unfortunately, even if excuses are legitimate, the fact remains none of those three really has been that much better than an average replacement player.

        Considering the lack any more veteran leadership than the players I listed and the fact that the Caps seemed to have tried their hand at the speed game these last couple of games, it seems to me that it is only logical that the Pens do the same.

        If the Caps are trying to match speed with speed then I agree Phil;
        Reunite Crosby – Guentzel – Sheary and Malkin – Rust – Kessel.

        But my suggestion, as if anyone cares, anyone that is in the Pens org., would be Cullen – Hornqvist – Kuhnhackl as the third line


        Rowney – Wilson – Archibald on the fourth. with the fourth line getting at least 10min of TOI.

        Even if the Caps have found their Mojo I would rather go down swinging than looking. I would rather lose trying to win with energy and love of the game than with old tired, injured players. What is the old saying “Victory goes to the bold!”

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          May 9, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          Hey Guys
          I too am rereading all the comments above and pondering what happens tommorrow night ?
          I know one thing for sure. ..if we are going to have any success against the Caps,it will take all 4 lines to do it.
          Especially Cullens line. We all know they will concentrate on 87 and 71. Plus they have the
          advantage of the last line change, but it is some what negated by the fact we have won the majority of the face offs in this series.
          Regardless of what happens we need to get a lot more scoring chances than just 8 shots in the first 2 periods like last game.
          I like the idea of using a few more kids than veterans .
          We got nothing to lose….

          Let me be the first to mention it…..We do not win tommorrow night , this current roster of the Pen’s will NOT be with us next October. THERE will be MAJOR CHANGES. So all hands on deck tommorrow night!
          This team was built to win now !!
          There is no tommorrow. ( Same with the Caps.)

          I will predict we win 5 – 3 in Washington. !!!
          (I have be right one of these times.) haha

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            May 9, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

            Hey Jim,

            Whether the Pens win game 7 or not, whether they win the Cup or not, the team has to have major changes. The D was Horrible with a capital “H” all season. There are a lot of kids waiting in the wings. And of the veteran high-priced players, only Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, and Hornqvist earned their salaries this year. During the regular season. Kids like Guentzel, Rust, and Sheary stepped up to cover for all the deadwood.

            Not all of the changes need come from the outside though. Only on D is there a need for outside help.

  4. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    May 9, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    Looks like many of our fears for this series are now being realized. The pounding of 11 straight games against heavy hitting teams seemed to have taken their toll on team that has played more game sthan any other team in these play-offs this year. Add to that mix MAF showing his Hyde face instead of his Jekyll. I don’t know what this series would have looked like if Sullivan had just left well enough alone and not moved Kunitz and Hagelin back into the line-up as soon as they were healthy, but my gut tells me that the Pens would have closed out the Caps some time ago. I hate conservative thinking. In one of his rare gaffaws last playoffs Sully tried to reinsert Fleury over Murray just because Fleury was the veteran. I am afraid that this year his conservative play has at least cost the team to have to play extra games, I hope it doesn’t cost the series. As I noted, the reversal in the Pens Mojo started pretty much about the time Kuntiz and Hagelin came back.

    And with all due respect to his regular season efforts and the assist he garnered last night, Sheary would be sitting if I were coach. He is now a -6. I would have replaced him with Archibald and re-united Rowney – Wilson – Archibald as my fourth line for fresh legs and tons of energy.

    Also, the players that need called out really are Bonino and Hagelin, Bonino more so since he has played more, they HBK Mojo is gone, not because of anything Kessel has been doing he still is producing and has one of the best +/- on the team. Bonino, on the other hand has barely done anything other than win a handful of faceoffs. His play may be the biggest disappointment this playoff year. His contributions are fractional compared to last year and may represent the biggest problem with imbalanced scoring right now.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      May 9, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      I hear ya, Other Rick.

      It sure doesn’t look good for our boys. They, indeed, appear to be worn down from the pounding they’ve absorbed, not to mention the cumulative grind from last season’s Cup run and all the injuries.

      While we still have a shot in Game 7, I honestly think it’s going to require Fleury stealing a win to get us there. As you so duly noted, he’s trending in the opposite direction.

      Regarding your suggested lineup changes, I don’t want to say too much (it’ll steal the thunder from my next post). Let’s just say I agree. We need a shot of adrenalin and some battle-readiness.

      To my eye, Kunitz and Hagelin just aren’t getting it done. I hear ya’ about Sheary, but I do like his speed. And Bonino still has that knack for getting a big goal.

      Anyway, I’d like to see Wilson and Archibald in the lineup for Game 7. Rowney, too.



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