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Sport Goaltending will be the key factor for Penguins in Game 6

09:31  08 may  2017
09:31  08 may  2017 Source:   post-gazette.com

Penguins and Capitals have been here many times before

  Penguins and Capitals have been here many times before Stunning things happen during the Stanley Cup playoffs every year, and 2017 has been no exception. Who foresaw Nashville limiting Chicago’s high-octane offense to three goals in four games?Or the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 finishers in the regular-season standings being jettisoned in Round 1?Or Boston accumulating five delay-of-game minors in its final two games against Ottawa?Not everything, however, is chaotic and unpredictable in the spring.Exhibit A: The Penguins are preparing to face Washington in a best-of-seven series, beginning at 7:38 p.m. Thursday at Verizon Center.

In basketball, goaltending is the violation of interfering with the ball while it is on its way to the basket and it is (a) in a downward flight, (b) when it is above the basket ring and within the imaginary cylinder, and (c) not touching the rim.

That will go a long way to deciding the second important factor – keeping the Bruins’ big line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak from scoring. The problem for the Leafs is that without the home advantage of last change on Wednesday, Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy will be able to

If Marc-Andre Fleury can replicate his past performances in goal this postseason, the Penguins have a good chance of closing out the series Monday. © Matt Freed/Post-Gazette If Marc-Andre Fleury can replicate his past performances in goal this postseason, the Penguins have a good chance of closing out the series Monday.

Go ahead, make this about shot attempts, an area where the Penguins have been hilariously deficient so far this series, accounting for about 37 percent of them through five games.

Or try to talk about depth scoring as the Capitals did after a 4-2, series-extending victory in Game 5 Saturday, the result of dropping captain Alex Ovechkin to the third line and igniting a more well-rounded attack.

Carve out a narrative about Sidney Crosby’s return from a concussion, Evgeni Malkin leading all scorers this postseason with 17 points or even how the absence of Kris Letang has been magnified with the Penguins struggling with own-zone play.

No hearing for Niskanen over hit to Penguins star Crosby

  No hearing for Niskanen over hit to Penguins star Crosby The NHL will not hold a disciplinary hearing for Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen for his cross-check that injured Penguins star Sidney Crosby.  Your browser does not support this video require(["binding"], function (binding) { binding("wcVideoPlayer", "#video_player_fe4ccea1-edaa-4d7b-ac76-6ffefde3eb03").all(); }); PITTSBURGH — The NHL will not hold a disciplinary hearing for Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen for his cross-check that injured Penguins star Sidney Crosby.

TAMPA — When Lightning goalie Ben Bishop had to be stretchered off the ice in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, no one would have guessed the Pittsburgh Penguins would be the team to endure more stress about goaltending .

The Penguins led the NHL with 33.2 shots per game and were third with 3,775 shot attempts. Video: WSH@PHI, Gm 6 : Holtby makes clutch saves in the 3rd. 5. Net gains: Goaltending will be critical in the face of such potent offenses, which is where Washington has an edge.

All are interesting. None are wrong. Some are good. Some are bad. But the reality of determining whether the Penguins or Capitals advance is hardly complex. The team with the better goaltending has won every game thus far. Why should we expect that to change, as the Eastern Conference semifinals shift back to PPG Paints Arena for Game 6?

“Holts really stepped it up,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said of his goaltender, Braden Holtby, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, a nominee again this season and the difference-maker Saturday night. “We got a lot of energy from the saves that he made. In the third, they obviously had a push when we got up a couple there, and I thought he was huge.”

Holtby had been ordinary for much of this series. The lowest point came when Trotz yanked him after two periods in Game 2, when Holtby allowed three goals on 14 shots. It was a different story Saturday. Instead of watching the third period from the bench, Holtby made a huge stop on Sidney Crosby 8 seconds in, then denied Tom Kuhnhackl at 2:14.

Like last year, Penguins hope to maintain composure in Game 6

  Like last year, Penguins hope to maintain composure in Game 6 As the Penguins prepare for Game 6 against Washington Monday night, they want their short-term memory wiped clean — erased of all vestiges of the blown third-period lead in Game 5. But their long-term memory? That might come in handy. The Penguins find themselves in a similar situation as they were a year ago, coming back to Pittsburgh for a Game 6 up, 3-2, in the series, and coming off a Capitals win to stay alive in Washington.“It’s definitely similar,” defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. “Obviously we’re going back home. We just need to continue to get the job done, and learn from these.

The Penguins need better goaltending than they got last season. There are reasonable ways of attacking all of those things, and the Penguins have obviously tried. But in 2018-19, the same as really any year for any NHL club, much will be determined by the answers to those questions and

Penguins goaltending was going to be a big problem when Matt Murray went down with an injury, but Casey DeSmith has filled in admirably in his absence. It was the Penguins fifth hat trick this season and they’re not even halfway through the season. Though a loss, a role player stepped up when the

Earlier, with the Penguins trying to pad a lead, Holtby thwarted a two-on-one rush with Bryan Rust and Olli Maatta. Holtby made other key stops in the third on Nick Bonino and Conor Sheary.

“That’s why he’s up for the Vezina,” Bonino said. “He’s one of the best in the league. That’s the way it goes. You expect good goaltending in the playoffs. They got it [Saturday].”

In postseason 10 starts, Fleury has a save percentage of .929 and a goals-against average of 2.56. Holtby has a worse save percentage (.909) but a better goals-against average (2.54) in 11 starts.

It is not as if the Penguins got bad goaltending in Game 5. It’s just that Fleury, who entered Saturday’s game with an NHL-best .937 save percentage this round, was average, not spectacular.

Two goals came off blocked shots. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored from such an impossible angle that it almost defied physics. Andre Burakovsky, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin scored goals that Fleury, in his previous eight playoff games, likely would have stopped.

6 reasons why the Caps-Penguins Game 7 will be a must-watch

  6 reasons why the Caps-Penguins Game 7 will be a must-watch The Capitals have a huge chance on Wednesday night to silence nay sayers and their own demons. A Game 7 win on Wednesday night could change everything.

1. Goaltending heroics. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Braden Holtby have made their share of incredible saves during this series The Capitals and Penguins have met three times before in Game 7s, twice in the Ovechkin era, with the Penguins winning all three times.

This game may well have been the deciding factor in Grubauer winning the starting job heading into the playoffs. 3 keys of the series for Washington. 2. Getting the goaltending advantage: The scoring depth of Pittsburgh is unmatched. The fact that a team can have Crosby, Malkin and Kessel all on the

Which is one of the reasons Penguins coach Mike Sullivan chose his words carefully when asked postgame about Fleury’s comment that he thought Saturday was his worst performance in the postseason thus far.

“I thought he was solid,” Sullivan said, wasting zero time to defend his goaltender and pump some tires before Monday. “He’s made save after save for us. The goals they scored were good goals. I think we can do a better job in front of him.”

The Penguins certainly can. They can play with the puck for longer stretches and cobble together more offensive zone time, theoretically making the Capitals defend them. Getting out of their own zone quickly and playing with the puck are two areas where Letang excelled.

Malkin has piled up points, but he’s yet to take over a game. Crosby’s line accounted for 25 percent of the shot attempts in Game 5 (13 of 52), but it has had better games this postseason and Crosby was critical of the team’s execution after this one.

Some offensive contributions from third- and fourth-line wingers also wouldn’t hurt. Carl Hagelin scored Saturday, but Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Kuhnhackl have yet to register points in this series.

NHL playoffs: Penguins look to take more shots in Game 2 vs. Senators

  NHL playoffs: Penguins look to take more shots in Game 2 vs. Senators Pittsburgh was outshot 35-28 in an overtime loss against Ottawa to start the series.The Pittsburgh Penguins’ plan for Monday's Game 2 against the Ottawa Senators follows the logic of the memorable Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

Then, in a pivotal Game 5, the Penguins had an extra skater on the ice as they looked to tie the game , and they allowed this to happen. The Penguins were done in by a lack of production behind its superstar, late blunders, and shaky goaltending . The Capitals were able to dig deep, show resilience

During their eight- game winning streak, the Penguins have allowed just nine goals. Yes, a lot of that has been the goaltending as Murray and There are myriad reasons why the Penguins look faster these days, but coach Mike Sullivan pointed to puck support as perhaps the most important factor .

Trotz dropped Ovechkin to the third line with Lars Eller and Tom Wilson to try to ignite something, and the Capitals might have stumbled on an effective concoction.

In explaining the move to Ovechkin, Trotz said he used the example of Phil Kessel and the HBK line for the Penguins last year, the group that tortured the Capitals the most.

“You have to have multiple lines that can contribute,” Trotz said. “[Saturday], we did.”

Trotz isn’t wrong. He could also talk about something Holtby mentioned, how the Capitals were more selective with their shots Saturday, preferring quality over quantity; they attempted 66 compared to an average of 76.5 through the first four games.

Trotz could even have talked about handling momentum swings, which is hardly unique to this playoff series, or the need to play a full 60 minutes.

Those things help, but not as much, in this series anyway, as winning the goaltending battle. Much like the HBK line last spring, Fleury has been that out-of-nowhere element that has giving the Penguins a boost.

And they’ll need to continue to get the better goaltending if they want to avoid a return trip to D.C.

“That wasn’t our best,” Fleury said after Game 5. “It’s disappointing to not finish it off. We had a chance at it. I think everybody would agree we have to put it behind us and move on.”

Joe Starkey: The Penguins can win any which way

  Joe Starkey: The Penguins can win any which way A respected colleague approached me after the second period Monday and said: “Sure seems like the Penguins are pressing here, and the Senators look perfectly comfortable in this kind of game. They could do this forever.” Yeah, well, I’m not so sure about that. Especially, the first part.Seems to me the Penguins are comfortable in any kind of game — including a scoreless tie in which they are spending most of their time in the other team’s end.Coach Mike Sullivan spoke the truth after the 1-0 victory when he said, “What I love about this group of players is we can win different ways.

Up by a goal in Game 5 heading into the final 20 minutes of the game , everything looked like it was coming up roses for the Pittsburgh Penguins . Though they have been out-shot and well out-attempted every game , they were playing the role of opportunistic team backed by stellar goaltending , a perfect

A major shift is occurring in the world of goaltending , and if you’ve been paying close attention, you may have noticed the trend. He feels that efficient tracking is the key to being a successful goaltender. Mitch Korn will still tell you they go for bigger EVERY time when other factors are equal.

Jason Mackey: jmackey@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JMackeyPG.

Related slideshow: Scenes from the NHL playoffs (Provided by photo services)

Stanley Cup playoffs: Penguins' Chad Ruhwedel suffers concussion on big hit from Bobby Ryan .
An already thin Penguins roster suffered another injury Friday, when defenseman Chad Ruhwedel exited late in the first period and never returned in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals after taking elbow to the face on a big hit from Senators winger Bobby Ryan. Ruhwedel remained down on the ice in pain while a scrum ensued along the boards. His Pittsburgh teammates thought Ryan left his feet and went elbow-first into Ruhwedel's head.Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters after Pittsburgh's 3-2 win that Ruhwedel suffered a concussion. The defenseman will be re-evaluated when the club returns to Pittsburgh.

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