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PLAYOFF GAMEDAY – GAME SEVEN – CAPITALS

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Series Tied 3-3


7:00PM – Verizon Center
[Net Lit In Red” by clydeorama on Flickr]

Here we are.
After all we’ve been through.
Here we are.
Game Seven.

Six games.
Three overtimes.
Several momentum changes.
None of it means anything if we don’t win this one.

We’re in enemy territory.
Our backs are against the wall.
It’s now or never.
Do or die.
A million clichés have been rushing through our collective heads since Monday night.

They’ve been followed by a million emotions.

Disappointment.
Sadness.
Fear.
Expectation.
Nervousness.
Anticipation.
Anxiety.
Hope.

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It all went so fast.

The preseason game against Jokerit.
Sergei Gonchar injuring his shoulder.
Starting the season against the Senators in Sweden.
One of the best season-opening records in team history.
Coming back to defeat Detroit in overtime.
Falling into a terrible slump in the winter.
Getting blown out by Toronto and Florida.
Dan Bylsma.
Finishing the season strong.
Beating Philly in the first round.
Dueling hat tricks with Ovechkin.

And now here we are.
Game seven.

It’s been an up-and-down road.
It’s probably taken years off of our lives.
In December people were already talking about the draft.
No one would have predicted we’d be here.

But here we are.

Sergei Gonchar participated in the game-day skate today.

Tonight’s lines, without Gonchar:

PITTSBURGH
Kunitz – Crosby – Guerin
Fedotenko – Malkin – Satan
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Adams – Talbot

Orpik – Letang
Gill – Scuderi
Eaton – Boucher
Goligoski

WASHINGTON
Ovechkin – Backstrom – Kozlov
Fleischmann – Fedorov – Semin
Laich – Steckel – Bradley
Beagle – Gordon – Clark

Morrisonn – Green
Poti – Jurcina

Erskine – Pothier

In every dire situation heroes emerge.
Last year it was Talbot and Sykora in Detroit.
This season it was Malkin against Tampa Bay.
In years past it was Mario Lemieux or Jaromir Jagr.
Who will it be tonight?

The Penguins are not going to make the Stanley Cup Finals every year.
We all know that.
We’re all okay with that.

But when you look at the team we’re playing against tonight you know that we can’t lose to them.

Stop for a moment and picture Alexander Ovechkin leaping against the boards in celebration.
Picture the flashing lights and the sirens and the horns and the monster truck announcer screaming.

Vomit.

The Penguins don’t want to be in that situation either.
It was hard enough for them to watch Detroit parade the Cup around Mellon ice last year.
They don’t want to endure the insane ridiculousness that would accompany the Caps winning tonight.
They want to live it even less than you want to watch it.

One more win puts that idea away for another year.
One more win sends us back to the Eastern Conference Final.
One more win destroys the talk of a “runner-up curse.”
One more win.

Have faith in them.

You’ve seen what they’re capable of.
You know that Crosby, Malkin and Gonchar do not want to lose this game to Ovechkin.
You know that Fleury does not want to be shown up by some 21-year-old with a handful of games of experience.
You know that, out of all of the places in the world, the Pittsburgh Penguins do not want to find themselves surrounded by a celebrating sea of red tonight.

So they will fight.

This is war.
It’s one win, but it definitely won’t be easy.
It won’t be fun.
It could be the most difficult win this collection of players have ever tried to earn.
The Capitals have their backs against the wall as well.
They also know the stakes.
They will fight just as hard as the Penguins will.
And at the end of the night there will be one team left.

Who will be the hero tonight?

DO IT.

Bring it home.

Go Pens.
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