Penguins (minus Crosby) edge Capitals

If this Washington Capitals team fails this year, they deserve to be labeled "chokers".

Shattenkirk's goal 3:13 into overtime lifted the Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 2-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinal, one that could go on without Penguins star Sidney Crosby.

But if there's one player on the roster who can elevate his game to a level that makes up for Crosby's absence, it'll be the man who takes his spot centering the Penguins' top line.

Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby skated at the Penguins practice facility Thursday, two days after the team confirmed he was suffering from another concussion. "As a player you don't want that stuff to happen".

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby will be evaluated on a daily basis going forward.

Even without Crosby, the Penguins won't lack for star power.

As is indicative of the final score, the Capitals did not roll over after the Penguins went up 2-0. A crucial icing call against the Oilers late in Game 4, not to mention some other linesmen-influenced plays sure to be debated, hardly make this pill easier to swallow. He left Game 3 and was diagnosed with a concussion.

One frightening moment, however, will resonate above all others.

Crosby remained on the ice for several minutes before slowly skating off and going to the locker room.

Niskanen was given a five-minute major penalty and a 10-minute game misconduct.

After the game, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz put the hammer down. "In reality, you don't have the ability to look at the full picture". Fleury has more than a dozen names of teammates and former teammates written on his goalie mask.

I thought for a minute that maybe I was being overly kind to Niskanen.

This wasn't the first time Crosby took an ugly shot to the head from a Capital.

Crosby has dealt with multiple concussions during his career, including one against Washington in the 2011 Winter Classic that he needed almost two years to fully recover from. In Game Four, Penguins got in front of 24 Capitals shots. Nicklas Backstrom leads Washington with four goals, T.J. Oshie has seven assists and Alex Ovechkin has 38 shots on goal.

"That's sort of the deal that you're dealt", Trotz said.

He says although he doesn't feel there was any intent to injure by Niskanen, he doesn't like when it's referred to as a "hockey play".

"We overcame (the own-goal)", Williams said. He took it a step further and said Niskanen shouldn't have even been thrown out of the game.

Though maybe not as tough as it could be for Pittsburgh if Crosby's familiar No. 87 is out of the lineup. Defensively, the Washington Capitals are allowing 2.2 goals per game and are killing 83.8 percent of their opponents power plays. The Penguins were 0 for 5. A flick of Hornqvist's wrists and the puck sailed over Holtby's glove and under the crossbar 4:39 into the first period. There is no timetable for the two-time MVP's return.

  • Julie Sanders