Pittsburgh (1-0) at Washington (0-1)
When: Saturday, April 29th 2017
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBC
The Washington Capitals are on the verge of digging a deep hole to the Pittsburgh Penguins in their second round series as the defending Stanley Cup Champions look to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven set. Captain Sidney Crosby scored two goals in 52 seconds to begin the second period and Nick Bonino notched the game winner in the third period as the Penguins beat the Capitals 3-2 on the road in Game 1. It was Crosby’s franchise high-tying 51st career multi-point postseason performance and the superstar is riding a five-game point streak (four goals, five assists). Crosby has 17 points (10 goals, seven assists) in 14 playoff contests against the Capitals. Bonino continues to torment the Capitals, ending last year’s second-round series with the overtime winner in Game 6 and scoring and setting up a goal during the regular season before converting on a breakaway with 7:24 remaining in the third period on Thursday. Marc-Andre Fleury made 15 of his 33 saves in the third period Thursday to improve to 5-1 in the playoffs with an impressive .934 save percentage. Left-winger Carl Hagelin participated in a full-contact practice Friday and will be a game-time decision for Game 2 after being sidelined since March 10th with a lower-body injury.
The Capitals controlled the game from the onset to the tune of an 83-41 advantage in attempted shots – and 35-21 in actual ones – in the series opener, but Alex Ovechkin’s second-period goal came after Crosby scored his two quick goals. Evgeny Kuznetsov tied the game in the third period as it looked like the Capitals might have been able to take the opener, but Bonino silenced the crowd and the Capitals couldn’t get past Fleury late in the game. Ovechkin used some colorful language to express his displeasure with the officials failing to call any penalties against Pittsburgh in Game 1, while fellow teammate and former Penguin defenseman Matt Niskanen offered the more politically correct take of “no comment.” Braden Holtby stopped 18 of the 21 shots he faced. T.J. Oshie has at least a point in eight of his last nine playoff games dating back to last year and has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last seven postseason meetings versus Pittsburgh. The Capitals’ stars usually come to play in Game 2 of a playoff series, with Ovechkin (10 goals, six assists) and C Nicklas Backstrom (seven goals, eight assists) excelling while Holtby owns a 1.63 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage in his Game 2 career.
The Capitals are frustrated right now and themselves and the officials and Pittsburgh has them right where they want. Nobody should have any real confidence that Washington can succeed in the playoffs due to their recent history. I think the Pens are going to snatch this Game 2 and maybe sweep the Capitals.
Pick: Penguins +125
HEAD TO HEAD
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