Pittsburgh Penguins looking to get back on track in Game 7 after losing series lead
CRANBERRY TWP. — The day after failing to close out the Eastern Conference semifinal for the second time, the Pittsburgh Penguins went through an intense, hour-long practice at their facility.
Only Trevor Daley and Matt Murray — both injured — missed the practice led by a particularly vocal head coach Mike Sullivan. It was the kind of practice one would expect from Pittsburgh as it tries to rebound from two consecutive losses that erased its 3-1 series lead.
Now, not only do the Washington Capitals have the momentum, but they also have the advantage of home ice for Wednesday’s Game 7. The series is even for the first time since it started, and it’s up to the Penguins to respond.
“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted,” said defenseman Brian Dumoulin said of Game 6, “but it’s a best-of-seven series for a reason. We just got to go win one game in Washington.”
The Penguins had multiple chances to win that one game. A victory in Game 5 or at home in Game 6 would’ve ended the series. But they played one of their worst postseason games in recent memory on Monday, falling 5-2 after Washington built a 5-0 lead.
Afterward, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said his team has been calm since winning Game 3 3-2 in overtime. Now, it certainly seems like Washington has the advantage, especially since it has arguably outplayed the Penguins for most of the series.
Evgeni Malkin, though, had other ideas after Game 6.
“If the Capitals think they won an easy game Monday and because of that they’ll win Game 7,” he said, “I say, ‘No.'”
With almost the entire team back from last year’s Stanley Cup run, the Penguins have plenty of experience to draw on, especially when it comes to playing with their backs against the wall.
Pittsburgh went to Tampa Bay in last year’s Eastern Conference final behind 3-2 in the series. The Penguins won 5-2 and then took Game 7 at home to advance to the Stanley Cup final.
“We have a lot of guys in this room that have a lot of experience and they’ve been in this situation before,” said Conor Sheary, who was a rookie last season. “We just have to worry about winning one game.
“The last three games weren’t our best, but the best part about it is we have a Game 7 and we have another opportunity to close out the series.”
Despite once holding a 3-1 series lead, the Penguins haven’t been satisfied with their execution. If they want to have the chance to defend their Stanley Cup championship, they need to get back to what they do best.
“We haven’t had success so far this series playing fast and that’s something we have to get back to,” said Patric Hornqvist. “We will tomorrow.”