Penguins Demolish Capitals 6-2 in Game 2; Kessel, Guentzel Score 2 Goals Apiece

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2017

Apr 29, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Jake Guentzel (59) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals during the second period in game two of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals are in danger of another early playoff exit.

The Pittsburgh Penguins earned a 6-2 victory in Game 2 Saturday, extending their series lead to 2-0 over the Presidents' Trophy winners.

Washington has lost in the second round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and has an uphill battle to avoid the same fate in 2017 after losing the opening two games against Pittsburgh at home.

Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel each finished with two goals and one assist in the rout, with Guentzel's final score coming on an open net. He has seven goals in seven games this postseason.

After scoring two goals last game, Sidney Crosby took on more of a facilitating role with two assists.

Meanwhile, Braden Holtby couldn't do much of anything in net. The Capitals goalie allowed three goals on just 14 shot attempts in the first two periods before head coach Barry Trotz pulled him for Philipp Grubauer.

The move was met with plenty of surprise:

Holtby was also hard on himself after the game.

"Playoffs are made of big moments," the goalie explained, per Brian McNally of 106.7 The Fan. "That third goal, that’s a big moment. That's where your goalie needs to come up with a save."

Grubauer didn't fare any better, allowing two goals in eight shots on goal.

Penguins counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury was far superior, making 34 stops with just two goals getting behind him. The 33 blocked shots from Pittsburgh also helped a great deal.

Alex Ovechkin had two assists for the Capitals while Nicklas Backstrom added one goal and one assist, but that wasn't enough to compete on a disappointing night for the home squad.

Like in Game 1, Washington was the more aggressive team from the start but struggled to turn that into goals. The home team took 34 shots in the first period alone, compared to just eight from Pittsburgh, although many were blocked before reaching the net.

Craig Custance of ESPN provided an unhelpful note on the early effort:

The Penguins took advantage of the lack of scoring by blowing things open in the second period. Three separate odd-man rushes led to a 3-1 lead through the second period:

The fireworks continued in the third, with Kessel's second goal of the game quickly answered by Backstrom.

However, an Evgeni Malkin goal that was confirmed by review made it 5-2 in favor of Pittsburgh and effectively sealed the win.

The bounces were just going the right way for the Penguins in this game:

Guentzel's empty-netter completed the 6-2 blowout.

The Capitals will be desperate for wins in Pittsburgh, which won't be an easy task. The Penguins were significantly better at home during the regular season and are 3-0 so far in the postseason.

Washington won't go down without a fight, but it will take a considerable effort Monday in Game 3 to avoid falling into an inescapable hole. At the very least, Holtby will have to perform like the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.

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