Three things we learned in the NHL: Fleury stonewalls Capitals

WASHINGTON (AP) - With Sidney Crosby continuing his brilliance for the Penguins and Braden Holtby not having the same response in net for the Capitals, the second-round series between the NHL's top teams has tilted in Pittsburgh's favor. A baseball cap had replaced his mask. The Capitals stars did not.

Washington Capitals - 71 shots on goal in the first two games of this Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals series before their home crowd at the Verizon Center. The play Crosby made to go through his legs while gaining entry into the offensive zone before Kessel scored his first of two goals was the highlight-reel play, but it was his blocked shots and backchecking that coach Mike Sullivan will likely highlight.

"We just had to change the mojo".

"Braden's our backbone, he has been all year". Stephen King couldn't have scripted a worse start to the second period for the Capitals. "We know we're not giving up hope or getting frustrated". Barry Trotz pulled last season's Vezina Trophy victor Braden Holtby after he gave up three goals on 14 shots in the first two periods.

Through seven games, the Penguins have allowed 119 more shot attempts (514 against, 395 for) and 49 more shots on goal (265 against, 216 for), yet they've outscored the opposition, 30-17, due in large part to a 13.89 shooting percentage and a 93.58 save percentage. But Cullen, who had four goals and six points in Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup run a year ago, is once again playing an essential part to the Penguins' success. I think they're just driven athletes. Because of his stellar play, the game was 0-0 after the first period. They are a very well built team, and they have been for many seasons now.

Holtby has not been on his game for the Capitals and was pulled after allowing three goals on 14 shots. The first goal came midway through the first period and tied the game at one after an early Rangers goal. Jake Guentzel leads Pittsburgh with seven goals, Phil Kessel has seven assists and Sidney Crosby has 21 shots on goal.

The Capitals will now be desperate for wins in Pittsburgh, which won't be an easy task. When the teams came out for the final period, it was Grubauer who skated over to the Capitals' net.

"Sometimes you need to hear from your teammates more than you need to hear from your coach", forward T.J. Oshie said.

"The playoffs are made of big moments", Holtby told reporters. That third goal, that's a big moment. "And I just didn't". "Obviously, I was frustrated that I didn't do that".

"Way too early to talk about that", Trotz said, asked if he planned to return to Holtby on Monday night.

Pittsburgh went on to win the series opener, 3-2. Saturday night was a frustrating continuation of dominating the Penguins without reaping a reward.

Winning despite being outshot is becoming commonplace for the Penguins, who got opportunistic offense in the form of a short-handed goal from Matt Cullen to open the scoring and then a tip from Evgeni Malkin in the third period that ended any thought of a Capitals comeback.

"We didn't have the luxury of choosing whether we wanted to play well or not on the road and with that comes some confidence", Yeo said.

Marc-Andre Fleury is making his case to become the latest red-hot keeper to foil Washington's Stanley Cup hopes, joining Jaroslav Halak and Henrik Lundqvist in haunting Ovechkin's nightmares. Bonino was key during the Cup run last season, and that should be true again this season - especially if they are able to get past the Caps.

Pittsburgh at Washington, 7 p.m. "They've responded all year", Trotz said. He's a straight up guy and he will be.


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