Minus Crosby, Penguins edge Capitals 3-2 to take 3-1 lead

20170501pdPenguinsSports03-1 Sidney Crosby leaves the game with this high stick from Matt Niskanen

Unfortunately, it happened, and we have to forget it and we have to move forward.

Pittsburgh leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 with Game 5 set for Saturday in Washington. No, this feels like more than that.

But it was Pittsburgh, without Crosby and Kris Letang, that outmuscled the Presidents' Trophy winners Wednesday during the course of a physical clash. Hey, another idiom that seems ideal to describe the performance of the top seed in the Eastern conference. Let's discuss rather how the Penguins can still win this series and advance to their second straight Eastern Conference Final. But Marc-Andre Fleury has been magical, standing on his head - all the idioms! - this entire series, perhaps no game more impressive than his 36-save effort in Game 4. They scored two goals just about a minute apart in the second period to tie the game and put the Penguins on their heels.

Sheary, 24, also left Monday's game after colliding with teammate Patric Hornqvist at 2:24 of the second period and was diagnosed with a concussion. "We'd like to spend less time in our end zone, we'd like to make sure that we hang on to pucks in the offensive game, we establish a puck-pursuit game, we try to get out of our end zone clean with our breakouts".

"Great pass from Olli (Maatta) and I saw Holtby was pretty deep in his net and just tried to get it up in a hurry", Hornqvist said. The Capitals are dead, again. The Penguins, the protocol with the league, the improvements we've made on that front ... just as a parent.

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Is that too much bravado? "I mean, from a media perspective that's how many of us look at it. Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Capitals, and his general manager, Brian MacLellan, may not agree with that". Nicklas Backstrom has enjoyed more consistent success with a goal and an assist in back-to-back contests to give him a team-best 10 points (four goals, six assists) in nine games. And, for what it's worth, they've already won one game in Pittsburgh.

Then there's the fact that Crosby was skating at the Penguins' training facility Thursday morning.

In the Caps' 3-2 loss to the Penguins last night, Ovechkin came up small with just two shots on goal and two trips to the penalty box. Now is not the time to start taking runs at Washington players in retaliation.

It shouldn't be surprising that the Penguins are leading the Capitals 3-1 despite losing their best player, best defenseman, and arguably best goaltender to injury. "He's been awesome, probably our best player". The chances are slim. It was a collision that happened because he was coming in with a serious amount of speed and trying to score. The Penguins were 1 for 5. Niskanen said following the game the hit was not intentional, with coach Barry Trotz calling it "a hockey play". And yet, with all the chips stacked in the Capitals favor, they were unable to deliver in a 3-2 Game 4 loss Wednesday night. But is it likely? No. "He's really shown it this playoffs". The Penguins are 4-4 in those games. "Sometimes they come around quickly". So until they do, they can't.

As far as the line combinations, the Penguins have a couple of different ways they could go.

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