Crosby skates with Penguins team mates days after concussion

Friday, 12 May, 2017

Unfortunately, it happened, and we have to forget it and we have to move forward. The Pens pushed the Caps off the cliff Wednesday night. Hey, another idiom that seems ideal to describe the performance of the top seed in the Eastern conference.

"The best way to make them pay is winning", Fleury said.

Holtby, the reigning Vezina Trophy victor and a finalist again this season, has a.867 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against average in the series and has been consistently outplayed by Marc-Andre Fleury, who has a.937 save percentage and 2.24 GAA in the series.

Pittsburgh built a 2-0 lead on goals by Patric Hornqvist and Jake Guentzel, blew that by giving up quick-strike goals to Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nate Schmidt and took a 3-2 lead into the third period after Justin Schultz scored on a power-play.

Game 5 is Saturday night, and the Caps' margin for error is gone. Well, with the Penguins leading 3-1, it certainly is looking that way. But it wasn't meant to be.

Through four games the Capitals have out-chanced the Penguins by 57 and outshot them by 48. "But great hockey players, to be on center stage when it's time to perform, need to make everyone around them better".

Sure, it was a very bad call - there's no arguing that - and you hate to see bad calls affect the outcome of a crucial playoff game, but this one didn't feel entirely unjust. The Capitals are dead, again.

The Penguins deserve all the credit in the world for what they've done this postseason.

"We just play the game", Sullivan said.

Coming back from 3-1 down is tough to do against anyone. While the Capitals lead once again in shots 38-19 - and they lead the series shot total 142-94 - the Penguins kept them out of any high danger areas while Marc-Andre Fleury took care of the rest.

He went on to acknowledge he made mistakes, but quickly noted that others did, too, and concluded: "One guy can't win the championship".

And, with Crosby out and Conor Sheary out and Kris Letang still out there's an element of smoke-and-mirrors to this Penguins team at some point the Capitals are going to break. To ensure Crosby is as healthy as can be for a potential third-round series, the team may keep him sidelined and see if it can get past Washington without him. That would be having a wildly successful regular season, only to leave fans disappointed with an early playoff exit.

Crosby missed the first six contests of this season with a concussion. In that series Pittsburgh also went up 3-1 on Washington.

Obvious choice is Fleury, but Getzlaf had a pair of goals in his first ever career multi-goal postseason game. One hit may have changed the tenor of the National Hockey League playoffs. One more win an they're through and they've got three shots at it.

The blown call didn't help their chances of finding a game-tying goal in a pivotal point of the series. Or he's just frankly a better fit for the offensive game that the Washington Capitals play. But is it likely? No.

Many hockey commentators have said they believe it was more of a series of unfortunate events colliding together and there was no intent to hurt Crosby.

"He's in the process of rehabbing", Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby, who has won two Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014 with Canada.

Alex Ovechkin knows it. But the Capitals are on the brink.

The nature of the salary cap system forces at least some changes upon teams annually and the Capitals will be no different regardless of how significantly they decide to alter their roster this summer. They're dead. And the Penguins are doing the pushing, shorthanded all the same.