Washington (2-3) at Pittsburgh (3-2)
When: Monday, May 8th 2017
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 7:35 ET | TV: NBC Sports Network
The Washington Capitals look to stave-off elimination one more time as they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Monday night. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 27 seconds apart in the third period as the Capitals closed the series gap to 3-2 with a 4-2 win at home in Game 5 on Saturday. Nicklas Backstrom tied the score early in the third as the Capitals finally solved Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Washington has dominated the series in shots (174-115), but haven’t put enough pucks in net. Vezina Trophy finalist Braden Holtby had his best game of the series, stopping 20 of 22 shots he faced. Andre Burakovsky also scored for Washington. Kuznetsov continues to be one of the main stories of this series after scoring a goal in each of the last three games to tie Backstrom and Ovechkin for the team lead with five. The Capitals have won Game 6 in four of their last five series in which they have trailed 3-2, although they dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Pittsburgh in 2016.
Game 5 saw the return of both Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary from concussions, but it wasn’t enough to propel Pittsburgh to clinch the series. Crosby recorded his franchise high-tying 96th playoff assist for his 12th point (four goals, eight assists) in nine contests this postseason. Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel scored the two goals for Pittsburgh, while Fleury finally struggled to 28 saves on 32 shots, his worst outing in the series thus far. “They finish first in the league, there’s a reason for it,” Fleury said. “The last (win is) always the hardest to get. Disappointing but move on.” Center Evgeni Malkin has collected two goals and four assists during his current four-game point streak. The Penguins have converted on the power play in back-to-back games, raising their total to eight goals with the man advantage in 10 playoff games. The Penguins have won seven of the previous eight playoff series with Washington – and went on to capture the Stanley Cup after the last two (2009, 2016).
Washington was going to eventually score considering how many shots they put on net. Pittsburgh has to find a way to slow them down to avoid having to play a Game 7. This is a tough call, but I’m going to go with the home team here. Pittsburgh has won seven of the last eight home games against Washington.
Pick: Penguins -120
HEAD TO HEAD
Trends courtesy of SportsOptions.com – an UltimateCapper.com partner