Capitals, Penguins prepare for Game 7
The Washington Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night to finish their taut, thrilling Eastern Conference semifinal (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
The game will mark Alexander Ovechkin's third Game 7 in the NHL playoffs and Sidney Crosby's first.
For all of his talent and success, Sid the Kid is still relatively, well, a kid.
"I have watched a lot of Game 7s, but this will be my first one," said Crosby, 21. "I have never played one in juniors or any level."
Crosby and 22-year-old teammate Kris Letang asked the, ahem, more experienced Bill Guerin for some words of advice Tuesday while skipping the optional skate at Pittsburgh's practice facility.
"Somebody is going home," Crosby said.
That feels like a bit of a shame given what these teams have delivered so far in a series that features the past two Hart Trophy winners (Ovechkin, Crosby), two of this year's finalists (Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin) and the past two scoring champions (Ovechkin, Malkin).
"Tomorrow is going to be pretty sick," Ovechkin said Tuesday, wearing grey sweats and flip flops after sitting out Washington's optional practice.
Five games in the series have been won by a single goal; the other was decided by two goals.
Three games went to overtime, including Washington's 5-4 victory at Pittsburgh in Game 6 on Monday night.
Both teams led in every game, and five times, the team that scored first lost.
Both teams have held a series lead: Washington went up 2-0 before the Penguins won three straight games.
And the teams have been tied or separated by one goal 92 per cent of the time.
"It has lived up to the hype of the 'Super Series,' and I think it is great for hockey in general,"' Capitals forward Brooks Laich said.
There are particular moments that stand out: Capitals rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov's out-of-nowhere save on Crosby in Game 1; the hat tricks delivered by Ovechkin and Crosby in Game 2; the overtime victories for the Penguins in Games 3 and 5 when a puck went in the goal off a Capitals defenceman.
"The star power is there, and they haven't underperformed," Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's not like you're playing in the Super Bowl, and you have got the best running back in the league going seven carries for 12 yards.
"There is no disappointment here."
Ovechkin has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) — better than two per game — and more than anyone in the NHL has produced in any playoff series since 2003.
Crosby, meanwhile, has 10 points, and Malkin eight.
It might have been instructive for Crosby to hear what the Capitals had to say Tuesday about what they remember of their recent Game 7 experiences.
In the first round this season, they won a Game 7, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to eliminate the New York Rangers.
In the first round a year ago, Ovechkin's first trip to the post-season, the Capitals lost a Game 7 at home in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Asked how he felt when that game ended, Ovechkin said: "Terrible, actually. But I don't want to think about losing."
Laich was more willing to share his memories in detail.
"It honestly felt like someone had just ripped my heart out," he said. "It was the worst feeling.
"I don't wish it upon anyone. Your season crashes, and it's all over — that's why you fight so hard to avoid it."