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Relentless Caps force Game 7

Capitals force Game 7 with 5-2 win (1:50)
Andre Burakovsky scores twice and T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom each score a goal as Washington evens the series at 3-3 with a 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh. (1:50)

PITTSBURGH — On the day before the Washington Capitals faced elimination for the second consecutive game, coach Barry Trotz shared his expectations for what he wanted to see out of his team.

“All it’s going to take is all we have,” Trotz said Sunday.

The Caps gave it all, and while dominating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 6 to force a potentially classic Game 7 between two rivals on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., they left us wondering what the Penguins have left.

The Capitals controlled play from the start, as they have for most of this series, but instead of the Penguins counterpunching, it never came. Even if we had been trained to expect it in this series.

No, the Capitals were relentless. The strong start became a strong second period, and they kept on coming. It’s almost as if the Capitals faced their worst fears while trailing during the third period in Game 5 in Washington, found a way to win that game, and have seized this second life ever since.

The Capitals have played a smart brand of hockey, completely removing the odd-man rushes the other way. They’ve continued to play physically, with their size and physicality paying off the way coaches suggest it should in a long series.

Penguins star Sidney Crosby again took a nasty hit, this time going headfirst into the boards near the end of the first period. It was scary enough, coming a week after his concussion, that there was some surprise that he was out to take the opening faceoff to begin the second period. It has to take a toll at some point.

And never has a game revealed how much the Penguins miss defenseman Kris Letang. Maybe it’s compounded with the loss of Trevor Daley (lower-body injury), but without two of their best puck movers, the Penguins too often couldn’t get it out of their own zone. It was especially apparent on the sequence of events that led to Andre Burakovsky‘s short-sided goal on Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

With the season on the line, Trotz wanted it all from his team. He most certainly got it. Now, the only question is whether they can keep it going right on into Game 7.

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