Zach Aston-Reese has played against the Washington Capitals once in his young National Hockey League career, and it won't be until later this week the Penguins forward will have faced them in the playoffs.
Alex Ovechkin celebrates after scoring his second goal on Monday. But the Capitals increased the lead to 5-2 after goals from Devante Smith-Pelly and Chandler Stephenson.
Game 7 is Wednesday night in Boston, with the victor advancing to face Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference semifinals. After rattling off three straight wins against the Blue Jackets last week, they completed the comeback with a 6-3 shellacking in Columbus on Monday.
The encouraging news is the 38-year-old centre has been skating regularly with the team the past few weeks and took the pre-game warmup during the Sharks' first-round series against Anaheim.
"We've had lots of different adversity through this year and in the past, and we've grown up a little bit in some ways", he said.
"I don't want to talk about it right now", he said. He put up two goals (including the overtime-winner in Game 1) and seven points.
What we don't know is if he can get Washington past the second round. "It's kind of hard to accept that as a hockey player and as a competitor, but we're going to work to fix it". Both were significant better than Blue Jackets, who were 25th on the power play and 26th on the PK.
"It's in our best interest to fill the building with people who are wearing red and are loyal to our team". "We were scoring at will". And in any case, we get the idea. But his confidence was misplaced as Washington connected six times on 28 shots to win the game 6-3.
The Capitals now can turn their attention to Pittsburgh, which is responsible for some of Washington's playoff disappointments. It's been 24 years since the franchise has beaten the Penguins in a playoff series. But it didn't matter because the Blue Jackets lost to the Capitals anyway.
The Nick Foligno goal early in second was really the only part of the game where it felt the Jackets had a chance. I know Washington was the better squad, but the Blue Jackets were a good, tough team that would have given anyone a strong test. Stevenson got a short-handed goal 1 1/2 minutes later to pad it.
"My love for the city and the organization is clear", said Letestu, who played for the Blue Jackets from 2012-15. Eller added an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left.
Trotz said he leaned on veterans Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and others to keep the Capitals on an even keel through the tumult of the season. While Phillip Grubauer deserved to start the series, the fact that Barry Trotz went back to Braden Holtby.
But for the time being, at least, those questions will have to wait, because the Capitals showed some moxie in the back half of their first-round series, marching all the way back from the two-game deficit to rattle off four straight victories and take the series in six games. In 2001, via the Washington Post's Thomas Heath, Leonsis blocked Penguins fans from buying tickets on the team's website ahead of their first-round series. The Blue Jackets are 2-8 at home in four postseason appearances.
Ovechkin appears to have come to the conclusion that fair or not, his legacy is going affected by his team's playoffs successes and failures.