Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Complete and utter domination. If you were trying to describe the Capitals 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in game 6, say no more than that.
Not only did Pittsburgh not come out strong, it took them over twelve minutes to get their first shot on goal and that was from center ice. They finished the first period with just 3 shots for.
The Capitals on the other hand looked great. Winning battles and races and making the fast Penguins team look slow. After T.J. Oshie got a power play goal in the first period, his 4th of the playoffs, it was pretty much over.
On to the stats.
This was one of the closer games in terms of shot attempts (go figure). The game finished 51-38 in all situations, 40-31 while 5v5 – Caps won both. The most lopsided period was the first period where Washington out attempted Pittsburgh 18-9, 13-6 at 5v5.
5v5 Scoring chances ended 24-15, the 15 chances for Pittsburgh seemed pretty high.
Some individual standouts. Dmitri Orlov was a +15 in attempts, he was on the ice for 23 attempts for and just 8 against.
Matt Niskanen was also strong. He was +13 and on the ice for 21 attempts for and 8 against.
There were only five Capitals’ who were under 50% after Game 6: Johansson was -1; Carlson, Schmidt and Orpik were all -2; and Shattenkirk was -4 on the night. Beagle was 57% and +3 while Winnik was 53% and +1.
The best Penguin in this category was Bryan Rust who was only a +3, he had 8 attempts for and 5 against.
Ian Cole was a stand out for a bad reason being on the ice for 9 attempts for and 21 attempts against.
Conor Sheary was -8 and Kunitz was -7 after Game 6.
The Capitals got off to an awful start in the faceoff circle in Game 6. After the first period they won just 9 faceoffs out of 28. After the poor start, their percentage for the game could never get over 50%, even after winning 61% in the second period and 57% in the third.
Jay Beagle was the Caps’ best guy at the dot in Game 6 winning 11 of the 15 draws he took.
Nicklas Backstrom went 10-18 to equal 56%.
Two centermen who still didn’t have a great game at the dot were Eller who won just 40% of 15 faceoffs taken (6) and Kuznetsov won only 4 of 14.
The only guy under 50% for the Penguins was captain Sidney Crosby who won 12-27.
Cullen went 5-7, Malkin went 7-12, and Bonino was 12-23.
Has the goalie battle shifted? Marc-Andre Fleury has started to look a little leaky. He has now allowed 8 goals in the last four periods of hockey. Holtby looked great at the end of Game 5 and was untested in Game 6. The only goals he surrendered in Game 6 were 4v4 goals at the end of the game when it was 5-0.
The Capitals allowed nothing the whole game. Defensively you had to love that game. Offensively it wasn’t great for 40 minutes. While Washington was shutting down the Penguins they didn’t have that many grade A chances either.
After this game I’m left wondering. Who is the pressure on now? The obvious answer is the Penguins who were up 3-1 and now going on the road for a Game 7.
The Capitals are still the best team in the NHL with Cup or bust expectation. Now they have a home Game 7 with all the momentum on their side (if you are one who believes momentum carries over). This season isn’t going to have a better ending if they lose just because they came back from being down 3-1. They have to finish the job now.
The best game in all sports is coming up on Wednesday. A Game 7 in hockey. Try to enjoy it.
By CJ Witt