Caps and Canadiens off to Play Game 7

The Washington Capitals failed to take advantage of their lead in the series, losing Game 6 by a score of 4-1. The series are now tied 3-3 and the two teams will faceoff one final time for Game 7 at the Verizon Center Wednesday, April 28.

In Game 5 at the Verizon Center, Washington lost 2-1 in Game 5, showing a lackluster offense unlike the past two games in Montreal, where the Capitals were able to score frequently.

The Capitals’ trademark throughout the season was that the Caps were the best third period team in the NHL, usually making their comebacks in the final frame. More often than not, the Capitals had the ability to comeback from three-goal deficits in the third period to either win the game in regulation or get the game to overtime.

In Games 3 and 4, the Caps may have played subpar hockey in the first period, but they were able to get better through the game and take over with a dominating lead.

Game 5, Washington quickly fell to a 2-0 deficit before the halfway point of the first period after goals from Mike Cammalleri, who scored 1:30 into the game, and Travis Moen whose goal came in at 7:01. Caps goaltender Semyon Varlamov was able to hold Montreal off the board for the rest of the game, but Jaroslav Halak was one goal better. Halak held the Capitals to only one goal for the night on 37 saves.

It certainly did not help that their power play continued to falter, as Washington was 1-for-24 with the man-advantage. However, their penalty kill was a perfect 6-for-6. Six penalties in a game though is far too many, keeping the Capitals on the defensive attack and preventing more creation of offensive opportunities.

Game 6 was an even more difficult task for Washington. Now with the series at 3-2, they were one game away from either advancing to play the Flyers or having to play a do-or-die Game 7 against Montreal.

The Canadiens, once again, scored two goals before the 10-minute mark of the first period. The Caps were unable to score though until the latter portion of the third period in this game when Eric Fehr finally broke Halak’s shut out spell.

In fact, Washington put 54 shots on net, with six power play opportunities. They were unable to convert with the upper man, the story of their 2010 playoff season. They continued to overpass and made too much of an effort to tricky pass back to the point. Halak standing on his head making spectacular saves did not make it any easier for the Capitals to score any goals.  Nonetheless, head coach Bruce Boudreau has no intentions of making any changes to the top power play unit for Game 7.

For the fourth time in as many Stanley Cup playoff series in the last three springs, the Caps will host Game 7 at Verizon Center. With Washington’s failing power play, lack of scoring and getting into deficits early, and allowing the Canadiens to outhit them throughout a game, it seems less likely of the certainty of a Capitals win in this series.

It helps less for the Capitals’ future games if they win, as they have gone to the maximum in this series. Players are bound to be worn out, and opposing teams gain more rest as the Caps are still battling to advance to the next round. One of the keys to a Stanley Cup was to keep series, especially early series, as short as possible. As long as the Capitals win Wednesday night’s final game of the series, they still have a chance to win the Cup, only making the road there slightly more difficult.

Notes: With Tom Poti out of the lineup for Wednesday’s game with a serious eye injury, Karl Alzner has been recalled from the Hershey Bears, who lead the Albany River Rats in the AHL playoffs 2-0 in their series.

Angie Lewis
Angie represented The Hockey Writers at the 2011 NHL Winter Classic and is credentialed for Washington Capitals home games. She is a NHL Contributor for SB Nation's "NHL Scores & More" and covers high school hockey for The Washington Post. Angie attended American University where she studied broadcast journalism.

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