Stanley Cup playoffs three stars: Capitals make most of second chance to force Game 7

The Capitals got one and averted a major case of deja vu with a wire-to-wire 5-2 drubbing of the Penguins Monday to force the Game 7 hockey fans so badly wanted but weren’t sure would ever come. Pittsburgh was on the verge of eliminating its bitter rival for a third time since 2009, including Nick Bonino’s Game 6 crusher a year ago, but will have to wait two more days to try again.

The Sabres fired coach Dan Bylsma along with Murray back in April. Botterill hopes to have a new coach hired in time for the NHL Draft in June.

If the Predators win, it’ll be a style-of-play issue. The Penguins haven’t played anyone quite like the Predators. They’ve played teams with better regular-season records. They’ve played teams with high-end superstars in Alex Ovechkin and Erik Karlsson. They’ve played more physical teams, from Columbus to Washington to Ottawa.

Nashville is fast. Nashville has skilled defensemen who carry the puck and generate offense. As Chris Kunitz said after becoming the hero of the Penguins’ Game 7 win over Ottawa, They have four Erik Karlssons. That may be a stretch, because Karlsson is the reigning Norris Trophy winner. But in P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm they have four D-men who recorded at least 20 regular-season assists.

The Penguins have beaten the No. 1, No. 4 and No. 12 overall seeds on their way to the organization’s sixth Stanley Cup Final appearance; it would stand to reason that taking care of No. 16 should be a breeze. But we saw a 16-0 Patriots team lose to 10-6 Giants team in the Super Bowl that ended the 2007 season, and we saw the 83-win Cardinals claim the 2006 World Series over the 95-win Tigers.

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