The Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers in Game Seven of their best-of-seven first round Stanley Cup playoffs series. It's the second straight season the Capitals have clawed their way from behind to force a Game Seven in the first round.
This game is full of sub-plots, adding to the pressure, mystique and challenge that comes with Game Seven.
RANGERS "KING" HAVING TROUBLE DEFENDING HIS CROWN
New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist had never been lifted from two consecutive contests in his NHL career until the past two games. He has surrendered nine goals in his last four periods of hockey, the first two periods of Games Five and Six. In the first four games of the series, Lundqvist had allowed just eight goals.
Rangers' coach John Tortorella acknowledged the problem. "Hank's got to play better, and he knows that."
Lundqvist has been vulnerable to the high glove-side in the past two contests, allowing several goals to his left.
CONTROVERSIES AND SUSPENSIONS
Caps' forward Donald Brashear was suspended for a total of six games; one for his pre-game altercation with Rangers tough guy Colton Orr, and five more for his vicious shoulder check on Blair Betts, which left Betts concussed and with a broken orbital bone.
It is likely that Washington captain Chris Clark will return to the lineup in Brashear's place. Clark missed the final 33 games of the regular season with a wrist fracture. "Hopefully I have a little more legs than the Rangers have and hopefully I can add some speed," Clark said.
Tortorella returns to the scene of his Game Five crime, when he threw a water bottle into the stands behind the Rangers bench. Tortorella received a one-game suspension for his actions, which were in response to verbal taunts by some fans behind the bench.
Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky is still insisting that Caps defenseman Shaone Morrisonn bit him in the arm during a scrum in Game Six, going so far as to show reporters red marks on his wrist. Morrisonn maintains his innocence.
"That's not what happened," he said. "I didn't do that."
For two years in a row, the Washington Capitals were Southeast Division Champions, though they took different routes to the title.
For two years in a row, they hosted a former Patrick-division foe in the first round of the playoffs.
For two years in a row, they dug themselves a 3-1 hole, only to storm back and force a Game Seven at Verizon Center.
Here's where the similarities end.
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