2016 was the year of the 3-1 comebacks and it seems as though 2017 is continuing that trend. In the second round of the NHL playoffs the Pittsburgh Penguins lead the Washington Capitals 3-1 heading back to Washington for Game 5. Now Game 7 will be held on Wednesday, May 10th.
The comeback by the Capitals started in Game 5 at the start of the third period. The score at the start of the third was 2-1 Pens after two hard fought periods. At 17:11 remaining in the Third, the Capitals scored to tie the game at 2-2 and start the comeback for the series. In that period the Caps scored 2 goals within 37 seconds at during to take a 4-2 lead in the game. Washington went on to win the game and stay alive. Game 6 was held in Pittsburgh two days later.
Game 6 was a different tale than Game 5. Instead of a hard fought battle between both teams, it seemed the Capitals were the only team on the ice. The Penguins first shot on goal or SOG in the game came at 7:43 in the first period. The Pens lead the league in Shots Per Game with 33.5 and were held to 18 shots for all of game 6. After the first period the score was 1-0 Capitals with SOG being 11-3 Capitals. After the second period the Capitals had scored another goal, leading 2-0 with SOG at 16-9 Caps. The third period was when the Capitals broke open the game. Coming out of intermission, the Caps scored within 16 seconds of the period starting by a quick snap shot by Nicklas Backstrom. The rest of the period the momentum still swung towards the Capitals, when John Carlson and Andre Burakovsky scored within a minute and a half against each other. The only offense for the Penguins came with less than 3:30 left in the game when Guentzel and later Malkin scored. At the end of the game the SOG were 26-18 in favor of the Caps.
Since the 17:11 left in the third in Game 5, the Capitals have outscored the Penguins 8-2, have out shot them 39-28, and have out hit them 48-38. The Capitals got the hint during the second intermission in Game 5, their season was about to end and their rivals were gonna end it for the second straight year. The Capitals played one of their best games of the 2017 playoffs to send the series to 7. Their intensity throughout the entire game was high, whenever a Penguins player touched the puck he was met with a check by a Capitals player or two or even two of them. Besides the Capitals playing great hockey, the Pens failed to show any emotion or fight until the final 3:30. In 4 power plays for the Pens, they had a total of 3 SOG, one of which was a goal but was during 4 on 4 play. The Penguins have shown no resemblance to the 2016 Stanley Cup Champions that dominated the playoffs a year ago.
The series will end on Wednesday and if the momentum stays how it is the Capitals will be the fourth team in the past year to comeback from 3-1. They will have defeated the Stanley Cup Champs and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 97-98 season. The Penguins need to completely change their pace of play and energy in the series if they are to advance to the Easter Conference Finals for the third time in five years.