The Pittsburgh Penguins are up against it. For the first time since the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals they will need to win consecutive games to stay alive and avoid elimination. The Washington Capitals are one win away from moving on to their first conference finals during Alexander Ovechkin's career.
It was Jakub Vrana who scored the game winning goal after being promoted to the top line. Basic logic finally prevailed for Barry Trotz and the team was rewarded with that timely goal. Who knew that skilled players maximize their talents with other players who are good.
Giving up the game winning goal with so little time left is frustrating. Losing a game where you outplayed the other team is also frustrating. This is exactly how the Capitals felt last year when they got Fleury'd (the good kind). Sometimes the best team doesn't win a series and that is especially true when talking about a single hockey game. These kinds of things were bound to happen at some point and it remains remarkable that the Penguins had the run they did in 2017.
Pittsburgh is more than capable of winning back to back games against the Capitals. It's going to be tough. Overall the series has been close. The Penguins have a very small advantage in both their possession and expected goals for. The biggest difference for the two teams has been their goaltending. Last year it was Marc-Andre Fleury severely outplaying Braden Holtby. This year Matt Murray is losing that battle to Holbty. Holtby's 5v5 save percentage is .944 through five games while Murray's is at .906. In his two years Murray has shown the ability to bounce back after a loss and play quite well.
Monday night is going to be really interesting no matter how it turns out.
Thanks for reading!