PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It wasn’t that long ago when the Pittsburgh Penguins appeared to be well on their way to eliminating the Washington Capitals in their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series.
The Penguins held a 3-1 lead in the series, but the Capitals fought off elimination in Game 5 and then dominated the Pens in Game 6.
Penguins fans may be fearing the worst heading into Wednesday night’s decisive Game 7, but we found at least seven reasons to believe in the Pens.
#7 – Although their offense was held in check for most of Game 6, the Penguins are still the top scoring team in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Pens have scored 39 goals, averaging 3.55 per game.
#6 – The Penguins have the individual offensive firepower to match any team. Evgeni Malkin is the leading scorer in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs with 18 points. Rookie Jake Guentzel picked up his league-leading ninth playoff goal in Game 6.
#5 – It may not be as glamorous as goals, but the Penguins are excelling in the faceoff circle. They won 20 of 28 faceoffs in the first period of Game 6. Overall this postseason, the Pens are 5th in the NHL in faceoff win percentage at 52.8 percent. The Caps are third from the bottom at 46.5 percent.
#4 – In the clash of captains, how can you not side with Sidney Crosby? He’s 3-2 over his career in Game 7s. Meanwhile, the Capitals have lost twice as many Game 7s as they’ve won since Alexander Ovechkin arrived in Washington.
#3 – The last time the Penguins and Capitals met in a Game 7 was 2009. The Pens prevailed on their way to the Stanley Cup.
#2 – The Penguins have a long history of tormenting the Capitals. This will be the fourth time they will meet in a Game 7. The Pens have won all of them.
#1 – Home-ice advantage may not matter. In fact, it may play right into the Penguins’ hands. The Pens have a 5-0 road record in Game 7s. That’s not only the best in NHL postseason history. It’s also better than any team in the NBA or MLB.