National Hockey League playoffs: Capitals force seventh game

"If we do a little bit better job of (playing in their end), everything else will fall into place", Crosby said.

Well, it might not have followed the exact script. Braden Holtby stopped 16 to send the series back to Washington for the decider Wednesday night. "Early in the series a few breakdowns hurt us and they capitalized on them". But he's struggled at the start of each series, saving his best for last. The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost four straight games when allowing more than two goals.

Then there is reality - the Capitals trail the series 3-2 and again will face elimination when the teams meet Monday in Game 6 at PPG Paints Arena. The Capitals won 5-2 to force a Game 7.

Washington opened the scoring on the same power play, when Backstrom released Evgeny Kuznetsov who set up Oshie for a 1-0 lead. That leads all players in the playoffs.

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The Canadian star was examined by a team doctor who ruled he did not need to be removed from play for further evaluation. In the Caps' three wins, Backstrom has three goals and two assists.

The Penguins' first shot on goal didn't come until 12:17 of the first period, and even then it was a long clear by penalty-killer Brian Dumoulin. Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary are back from injury, and Marc-Andre Fleury is still more than solid in net.

Boudreau, who is 1-7 in his National Hockey League coaching career in Game 7 after success in that spot in the minors, thinks goaltending will be the difference. The Penguins are beat up, they're exhausted (they have played more games in the last 365 days than any other team still playing in the playoffs) and as cliché as it is, it's awfully hard to repeat as Stanley Cup Champs. We just missed. Some nights you just don't execute as well. Some of that is the play in front of him, especially with Pittsburgh defenseman Trevor Daley missing Game 6 with a lower-body injury.

"I think we're a really good team when we play desperate, and this is about as desperate as you can get", Shattenkirk said. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup that year. There's no reason why Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom can not do the same. The Capitals were the best team in the National Hockey League during the regular season but were down 3-1 in their series against the defending Stanley Cup champions. "They're going to have to be all in", Washington coach Barry Trotz said Sunday during a conference call with reporters. "The fun part has been the obstacle".

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Crosby finished the game with 19:57 of ice time, the most among Penguins forwards. "We can sit here and I can explain for 10 minutes what concussion protocol is and all that stuff".

Not listed is a player's head making secondary contact with the boards, which is what happened with Crosby on Monday. When the stage is the largest, the Penguins captain has a knack for being unstoppable. Evgeni Malkin is the leading scorer in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs with 18 points. The Penguins forward leads all scorers with 18 points and when Crosby went down with an injury in Game 3 nearly singlehandedly carried the Penguins to victory. They let the Capitals score three goals in the third period to cut their series lead from 3-1 to 3-2. The Penguins know what it takes to get through this. And they probably wouldn't have it any other way.

Will Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby play after clearing concussion protocols after Game 5 only to get drilled into the boards in Game 6?

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