Capitals overwhelm Penguins 5-2 to force Game 7

Andre Burakovsky scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom got his sixth of the playoffs and the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 on Monday night to force a Game 7 in their taut Eastern Conference semifinal.

The best-of-7 series is tied 3-3 with Game 7 at Washington on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh added two late goals, one from Jake Guentzel and another from Evgeni Malkin, but all they did was add a slightly unsavory ending to the Capitals' best performance of the series, when they needed it most.

All series the Capitals have been aiming to play better in front of Holtby, who had his best game of the series Saturday in stopping 20 of 22 shots. Just 16 seconds in, Backstrom got a two-on-one rush and blasted the puck into the top of Marc-Andre Fleury's net.

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20), of Denmark, battles for the puck with Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47), of Russian Federation, during the second period of Game 5 in an NHL Stanley Cup hockey first-round playoff series, Friday, April 21, 2017, in Washington.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) holds his face after colliding with Washington Capitals' Matt Niskanen (2) during the first period of Game 6 in an NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinal hockey game in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 8, 2017.

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It was a scary scene, considering Crosby missed Game 4 after sustaining a concussion during Game 3. Sullivan also moved rookie Guentzel alongside Malkin and put Conor Sheary with Crosby.

Daley took a hard hit from Tom Wilson from behind early on Saturday and then he got tangled up with Justin Williams near the Capitals bench in the third period. He remained in the game.

The best moments were the times they got the puck past Fleury, the 2009 Stanley Cup victor who was Matt Murray's backup on the Penguins' title run a year ago and is only starting because of the 23-year-old's injury. By then the Capitals already had a 1-0 lead on Oshie's fourth of the playoffs. On their way to the Stanley Cup one year ago he played, quite literally, half of every playoff game and did so at a level that only a handful of other players are capable of.

It wasn't unlike most of the first four games of the series, when Washington would control play for long stretches only to have Pittsburgh expertly counter on its way to a 3-1 advantage.

Holding two-goal leads in the post-season has been a tenuous proposition at best, with 13 times teams letting them away so far in the post-season. And then the Capitals battled back from a 2-1 deficit with one period to play in Game 5 to stay alive. "We're going to have to push them out. I think there were some chances to be had there a few times and we just didn't execute". Chad Ruhwedel filled in. At last, Alex Ovechkin made it 4-2 just 27 seconds after Kuznetsov's goal. The Penguins were 0 for 3.

  • Lawrence Cooper