What started as a best of seven series is now down to a best of three as both teams head back to the Verizon Center in D.C. for Game 5 tonight at 7:05. Washington has dropped two straight and will likely have some extra jump on home ice - that is, if the ice will allow it. Today's Post-Gazette reports that ice conditions in D.C. aren't ideal this time of year with the heat and humidity outside, but according to Ruslan Fedotenko it's not much better in Pitt either.
"I don't think [Mellon Arena's ice] is the best ice in the league, but it has its good days and its bad days. Sometimes, it's better than other times. ... It's pretty much average."
There have been a few awkward bounces at Mellon and Verizon throughout the series, so it's kinda hard to argue with the ice quality at either arena.
Pittsburgh will likely skate without Sergei Gonchar, who is listed as both a game-time decision and day-to-day. After initially seeing him writhe in pain after colliding with Alex Ovechkin it's good to know it wasn't too serious an injury. Something tells me that if G5 were tomorrow instead of today he would've been a definite go.
In that respect, and just to be on the safe side, the Penguins recalled Alex Goligoski from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to man the blue line tonight. Dan Bylsma suggested the Penguins will potentially carry seven defensemen if Gonchar does in fact play, just as a security measure. If I had to guess I'd say the Pens' decision to start Goligoski over Boucher was one that came down to characteristics such as speed and overall foot work rather than experience and brute force. Either way this could make things interesting on the PP tonight. Given the hype of back to back games in the playoffs maybe it's not so bad after all to have a fresh set of legs getting the start on D.
As of right now no evidence suggests that either team is looking to alter its starting goaltender, but we'll monitor that and any other updates throughout the afternoon.