Recaps from last night’s Game 7 matchups in Washington and Anaheim to wrap up the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Washington Capitals 0 (PIT wins series 4-3)
It could have been a reversal of fortunes, but it's deja vu instead. The Pittsburgh Penguins shut out the Washington Capitals 2-0 at Verizon Center to take their second round playoff series 4-3, thus continuing the Caps’ streak of misery at the hands of Pittsburgh.
Much like earlier games in this series, Washington dominated at first. They carried offensive play for the first 10 minutes or so, absolutely owned the faceoff circle (61% over the whole game), and seemed like an engaged and hungry team ready to exorcise some demons. But, as it had been throughout the series, it was Pittsburgh striking first through a Bryan Rust goal almost halfway through the game. Rust has been solid in Game 7's for Pittsburgh as he scored both goals in last year's win over the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby earned assists on what would be the game-winning goal.
From there, the Capitals looked a bit stunned. It wasn't for lack of effort that they hadn't broken through — a couple posts and some phenomenal saves from Marc-Andre Fleury were the culprits there — but they seemed dejected, especially after Patric Hornqvist added another tally with a surprising backhander over the glove of Braden Holtby just four minutes into the third period. Not even a Brooks Orpik fight with Scott Wilson could get the home side back into things, and Fleury held the fort at the other end to close out the Caps, again, for the second consecutive year.
Fleury stopped all 29 shots thrown his way, while Holtby went a respectable 26 for 28. Pittsburgh will begin the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators at home on Saturday night while Washington is left with another offseason of questions. -Peter Dewar
Anaheim Ducks 2, Edmonton Oilers 1 (ANA wins series 4-3)
Game Sevens are almost always exciting, but early in the final game of the Oilers/Ducks series on Wednesday, it felt like the same story was being written again with the same California sigh: the Ducks failed to get a Game 7 lead, for the fifth straight time.
To be fair, Edmonton’s first goal was almost pure luck. The Oilers tacked it on in the first four minutes off a misplay by Shea Theodore. As he started to move from behind the goal, Theodore crossed back in front of John Gibson only to meet the swinging stick of Drake Caggiula, who was able to slash it past Gibson for the opening goal. The video does more justice than words:
But Anaheim’s first goal was almost pure fight.
After establishing shooting momentum early in the second period, the Ducks found the back of the net just before the halfway mark off the stick of Andrew Cogliano. Ryan Kesler corralled a pass from Brandon Montour and worked the puck in front of Cam Tabot, leading to the redirection that found Cogliano. In my eyes, it was as much Kesler’s goal as Cogliano’s.
The Ducks took the momentum of a 16-3 second period shot advantage into the third and created an early lead with a wrister from Nick Ritchie. Talbot was just getting back up from a great chance seconds earlier and didn’t seem to get set, allowing Ritchie a great opportunity to power it past the goalie who is no stranger to high shot counts.
Though the third turned out to be a great back-and-forth zone battle between the teams, Ritchie’s goal would end up being the decider, giving the Ducks a Game 7 win for the first time since 2006. The Ducks will take on the red-hot Predators in the Western Conference Finals.
(Note: If they can stop Smashville, they can assure that there won’t be an obnoxiously yellow Stanley Cup Finals.) -Jake Crouse