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Pens Points: For All the Marbles

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Pens and Caps face off in Game 7 to decide who moves on to face Senators. Crosby concussion confusion highlights off day. Both sides benefitting from lucky breaks. Pens shuffle lines again to find offense.

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Six Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Well, here we are. A week ago the Penguins led the Capitals 2-1 in the series and the big panic was about the health of Sidney Crosby. Now, we stare down a Game 7 at Verizon Center with the season on the line. A win and the Pens return to the Eastern Conference Final for the second straight season. A loss and the season is over. It’s that simple. The Caps have dominated play for most of the series but in a Game 7 anything can happen. See you on other side.

Puck drop for Game 7 is set for 7:30 PM and will be broadcast on NBCSN.

Yup, Game 6 was ugly and this is shaping up to be a worst case scenario but not all hope should be lost...

To avoid a repeat of Game 6, the Pens hit the ice for a rare full squad practice before heading to D.C. Every healthy player was on the ice for what could be the team’s last practice of the season. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

In the first period of Game 6 on Monday night, Sidney Crosby crashed hard into the end boards with the principal point of contact looking to be his head area. Crosby did not miss a shift and had fans confused as to why he was not removed from the game to be evaluated. On Tuesday, the NHL offered a maddening explanation as to why concussion spotters did nothing. [USA Today]

Although he was not removed from the game by the NHL concussion spotters, Crosby did state that he was checked out and cleared by team doctors following the first period. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Game 6 brought the return of the famed “HBK” line and several other changes but the line shakeups offered no reward as the Caps shut down the Pens all night. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Almost everything broke the Penguins way during the first four games of the series but now it is the Capitals who are enjoying the bounces and having all the fun as the teams head for a decisive Game 7. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

In a game of complete domination by the Capitals, it was the up ice pressure from Washington that caused the most problems for the Penguins and forced them into mistakes that the Caps turned into goals. [Trib Live]

While tomorrow night is a big game for both teams, it is undeniably much bigger for the Capitals. Game 7 will be far and away the most important game of the Alex Ovechkin era and maybe the most important in franchise history. [SB Nation]

News and notes from around the NHL...

It’s been well noted that 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the NHL. Here’s a cool map detailing the league’s expansion over its first century. [Fox Sports]

Rumors about the return of Ilya Kovalchuk have been swirling for a while and now his agent has confirmed the player’s interest in coming back to the NHL. [CBC]

The Dallas Stars have acquired the rights to goaltender Ben Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings. Bishop is scheduled to become an UFA on July 1st. [NHL]

Even with the playoffs in full swing some teams are already in offseason mode. Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee is ready to start making deals to build his roster. [ESPN]