While the rest of the hockey world sits back and enjoys Game 7 between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, D.C. sports fans will be on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting and praying for a win by the home team.
History may not be on the Capitals side, but never fear, Caps fans! Here are five reasons you should be confident heading into Game 7.
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1. The Capitals have dominated the series: Yes, the series is tied 3-3. That's not where Washington hoped to be. But the Capitals have held a significant edge in shots on goal, shots attempted, and possession throughout the series. Barry Trotz's team has attempted 155 more shots than Pittsburgh through six games, good for the 9th largest differential in the last 10 years. If Washington dominates in similar fashion tonight, it would take another Marc-Andre Fleury miracle to get the Pens a W.
2. The Caps scored 8 consecutive goals between the third period of Game 5 and third period of Game 6: Washington was facing elimination for the first time in Game 5, and entered the third period down 2-1. Something changed in the locker room during that intermission. Washington scored three unanswered goals to win 4-2, and then scored the first five goals of the game en route to a 5-2 Game 6 victory in Pittsburgh. Scoring runs like that are almost unheard of in playoff hockey. If Washington keeps rolling, they'll win.
3. Mr. Game 7: Justin Williams' history is Game 7's is well documented. He's played seven Game 7s. He's 7-0. He has 7 goals and 7 assists in those games. He's the X-Factor, and he's wearing the home red. Look for Williams to impact a Capitals victory.
4. Holtby is better than Fleury: Yes, Braden Holtby struggled early in the series. Yes, Marc-Andre Fleury stole two or three games for the Penguins. In a one game, winner-take-all, we're taking Braden Holtby. He's the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and entered the 2017 playoffs with the best save percentage in playoff history. He can be the difference maker if necessary.
5. The Capitals depth finally takes its toll: The Penguins are battered and bruised. They've been without their best defenseman, Kris Letang, the entire postseason. Another veteran puck-moving defender, Trevor Daly, is likely out for Game 7. Sidney Crosby returned from a concussion but has been slowed by the Caps. Penguins starting goalie Matt Murray will be active for the first time all playoffs, but will likely back up Fleury. The Caps are healthy. They're deep. They're motivated. Tonight's the night.
Prediction: Capitals 4 - Penguins 2
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