[By Derek Tarr]
If I were to tell you that the Pens did not allow Ovechkin to score a single goal, you would assume that the Capitals night ended by shaking hands. But yesterday the Caps finally found secondary scoring and forced a game 7 that no Penguins fan wanted to see.
This game was a dichotomy of the entire series, back and forth action with neither team able to pull away when they had their opportunity to do so. The Penguins utterly dominated the first period, out shooting the Capitals 18 – 5 and much like the every other game of the series Varlamov stood on his head, only allowing one goal. The Penguins continued to get their secondary scoring as Bill Guerin was the only Penguin who beat Varlomav by firing a wicked wrist shot over the shoulder of the Capitals goaltender. I could not have asked for the game to start in any other fashion as it seemed that the Penguins would finally give all of our blood pressures a break and close out this series in easy fashion, if only it could have been so easy. The second period followed the form of the entire series; the capitals came out with a purpose and took the fight directly to the pens and 6 minutes into the second tied up the game on a Koslov goal. We were all wondering when he was going to find his game and unfortunately he found it tonight. The Capitals took the lead with a little over 5 minutes remaining in the period with a Flesh-Man goal (a side note here, Tomas Fleischman has the creepiest name in history, I feel like instead of scoring goal on Fleury he should be trying to “Put the lotion on the Skin”, but I digress.).
As the period wound down the Caps handed the Penguins another gift with undisciplined play and with under a minute remaining in the period Mark Eaton, yes Mark Eaton scored yet again to even the score at 2 a piece. Eaton has been the most pleasant surprise of the post-season, chipping in timely goals and playing solid D. During the season I thought that he was more of a liability on the ice but he is quickly proving his worth. In the final stanza the Pens and Caps continued their back and forth play. Kris Letang roped in a power play goal 4:40 into the third and triggered a avalanche of goals, as the Capitals tied the game under a minute later on a Laich goal and then took the lead 30 seconds later as Koslov found the net again, receiving some timely goaltender interference from the USS Gill. Hal, in an attempt to make a defensive play on Koslov, cut behind the Flower and effectively stopping Fluery from being able to get across the crease to stop Koslov’s shot. I imagine the resulting conversation went something like this:
Flower: Hal Get out of the Crease!
Hal: I’m afraid I can’t do that Marc...
All bad movie references aside, the unfortunate break the Pens got on the goal, seemed to galvanize the team and forced them to play with desperation. As the penguins cranked up the pressure the Capitals seemed to shrink into a defensive posture and they paid for it. With under 5 minutes remaining, Brooks Orpik fired a shot towards Varlamov, Crosby, who has been making his living in front of the net this series, did it again. Sid deflected Brook’s shot away from the Caps net minder and hacked the puck into the net, tying the game at 4. With the period coming to a close, the penguins received a break when the referees seemed to cough up their whistles and called Laich for slashing with 2:02 remaining. They had multiple chances on the resulting power play to close this game out in regulation but to no avail. As overtime every Pens fan’s biggest fear was realized when David Stekel beat Fleury short side to force a decisive game 7 in Washington on Wednesday. I for one did not want to see this game go back to the Capitals home ice, but what can you do? The Penguins need to buckle down and come out swinging on Wednesday night and knock the Capitals and their fans out early.
All bias aside, this series has been an incredible to watch and is the best thing to happen to hockey in years. We can only hope that it ends with the Pens moving on and Ovechkin and the Caps going golfing. So pray to the Hockey Gods, God, Buddha, Muhammad, Jeff Jimmerson, Yanni, whoever the hell it may be, that the Penguins come out and pecker slap these Capital bastards on Wednesday.