By Bryan Mongeau-Eastmond, staff writer
WASHINGTON (RPRN) 5/12/09– The Washington Capitals havenâ€™t figured out their consistency issues, but theyâ€™ve shown the ability to play well and more importantly win under pressure. Actually, when the Caps season has been on the line, theyâ€™ve surged and resembled pesky house flies impossible to swat away.
Heading into Game 6 of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal, the Caps refused to drop four consecutive games and gracefully exit the Stanley Cup playoffs. Instead, they hung around Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and annoyed him just enough to escape with a 5-4 overtime victory.
It was a complete team effort, said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, but David Steckelâ€™s overtime goal clearly made him the hero of the night. â€œI just happened to be in the right place at the right time,â€ said Steckel looking back on his game winning goal.
But make no mistake the Caps will continue to set Ovechkin loose and hope that their star sniper can continue to fire goals past Fleury. This is plan A, B and C with the hope that the league MVP last season will provide enough big plays to overcome mistakes that any 21-year-old rookie in nets might succumb to and make the Caps dangerous in the playoffs.
No surprise that this one went down to the wire, a theme in this memorable series. It was the third time in the last four games these teams saw overtime action with the Pens winning the previous two.
Not impressed by numbers the Capitals ended that streak and showed their resiliency. Theyâ€™ve been here before. In the opening series, Washington forced and won a seventh game overcoming a 3-1 deficit against the New York Rangers.
â€œWe’ve been through one before, so I mean we know what to expect,â€ Steckel said. â€œIt’s a great win, especially on the road for us. This is all we could ask for. We just wanted a Game 7. It’s not done yet.â€
After seeing a golden opportunity slip right through his hands, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma couldnâ€™t help but blow off some steam. â€œI would have liked (the first) period to keep going, skip the intermission,â€ he said. â€œWe had a good period, 18 shots, but they were playing hard â€¦ to their credit they kept it at one, partially due to their defensemen, partially due to their goaltending, and then they were able to bounce back in the second and the game kind of seesawed back and forth from there.â€
Photo of Crosby and Satan courtesy of the National Hockey League
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