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Game 7 Recap: Penguins down Caps 2-0 to advance

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Marc-Andre Fleury pitches a shutout and clutch players Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist score goals to push the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Washington Capitals 2-0 in Game 7 of a terrific series.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

The Penguins make a some changes, benching Tom Kuhnhackl from the 4th line and putting Carter Rowney in his space. Carl Hagelin is also a scratch for Scott Wilson to get back in.

1st period

No goals in the first. The Pens play with a little more gumption, but the Capitals spurred on by a hot crowd push the play some.

Writing this after the fact so I don't honestly remember if anything of substance happened. Sorry, yinz and yall. Shots 10-8 for Washington.

2nd period

Bryan Rust is encroaching on Max Talbot territory with all these Game 7 heroics. Sidney Crosby to Jake Guentzel to Rust and boom there's the all-important first goal of the game.

More chances traded, then holy shit Marc-Andre Fleury playing like he doesn't want this to be the last game of the...season, making a save off the shaft (NSFW) then giving it some love. Self love is the best love.

I mean, just come on

Shots in the period are 15-7 for Washington, this is essentially the storm. And Fleury weathers it like a champ. Score 1-0 Pittsburgh with 20 miles to go.

3rd period

Justin Schultz outworks Alex Ovechkin to a loose puck and holds the zone. It gets to warrior Patric Hornqvist who lifts a harmless looking backhander to the cage...Only it's not harmless at all and somehow slips over Braden Holtby. 2-0.

The Penguins keep up the pressure. With the season on the line shots are actually 11-3 Pittsburgh at one point and end 11-6 for the period. Just a terrific finish and excellent resolve by the Pens. Heart of a lion.

Some Thoughts

  • Make no mistake, these were the best two teams in the league and they showed it. A close, tight, even series. A lot of that, well almost all of that, is due to the performance of Fleury. Every game Pittsburgh won, he was brilliant. That's the stuff of legends.
  • Game 7 heroes just seem like Rust and Hornqvist at this point. Somehow they just always keep coming through. If the stat nerds want to isolate the "clutch gene", I would start with their DNA.
  • I mean, again, Fleury. 3rd career playoff shutout. With likely his Penguins career on the line. Could it be any better? Probably not.
  • The Pens defensively were a lot more engaged. Forwards were backchecking and clearing pucks. Defensemen were pushing ALL night long to hold the zone, step up, pinch and keep the pressure on. It wasn't always pretty but the effort can't be understated.
  • Again, it just comes down to will. The Penguins were playing like there was no other option than to win. The Caps were playing hard too (and got a couple bad bounces along the way) but at the end of the day it seems like Fleury and the Pens character carried this game.
  • They line these teams up tomorrow for a "winner take all" and the result well could be different. As emphasized in the first point, these are the best teams in the league. The Caps seemed relatively healthy and for long stretches were burying the Pens. But Pittsburgh never stayed down and got enough saves to survive.
  • Shoutout and stick-taps to our friends at Japers' Rink. Great series and job by them. Seriously, don't do Penguins fans bad by going over there and rubbing it in or being an asshole. That doesn't reflect well on you and if they feel the need to ban you, we will here too. Gracious in victory, gang.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The Pens find a way to survive. The Ottawa Senators are up next, and Pittsburgh has home ice advantage for as long as they're alive in these 2017 playoffs.

It's a great day for hockey! Bless you Badger Bob.

Pens