Stanley Cup playoffs three stars: Capitals make most of second chance to force game seven

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The Washington Capitals forced a game seven against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL playoffs with a 5-2 win on Monday.

Pittsburgh were on the verge of eliminating their bitter rivals for a third time since 2009, including Nick Bonino's game-six crusher a year ago, but will have to wait two more days to try again.

On the heels of three unanswered third-period goals in Saturday's game-five victory, Washington carried it over and went on a run of eight in a row in the last four periods to shift the once-lost series back to equilibrium.

The Caps' goal explosion came courtesy of stars like T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had been criticised at times for playing short of their typically high standards.

All combined for multi-point efforts and Andre Burakovsky chipped in a pair of goals to send the series back to the nation's capital.

Three stars

Andre Burakovsky, Capitals - Much of the burden to produce has fallen on the Caps' stars - rightly so - but it sure helps when key depth scoring comes from a guy like Burakovsky, who chipped in with his second and third goals of the postseason.

T.J. Oshie, Capitals - Oshie now has four goals and set a playoff career high with 12 points, one behind Backstrom for the team lead.

Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals - Backstrom's fourth goal of the series was Monday's most critical as it gave the Capitals a 3-0 advantage 16 seconds into the third period. He also assisted on the game's first goal, running his playoff point total to 13.

Highlight

To some it was a wonder Sidney Crosby was allowed to continue playing after taking not one but two blows to the head in the first period. Seven days removed from a concussion that cost him game five of the series, the Penguins captain was first bloodied by Matt Niskanen's stick and/or Patric Hornqvist's head before tumbling headfirst into the boards at the end of the period. Crosby was visibly shaken up in both instances but did not miss a shift, lending to criticism of the NHL's policy on concussion spotters.

Tuesday's game to watch

Game six: Senators at Rangers - "He's got his Hank on" pretty much sums up the Rangers' best hope to turn this series around and force game seven. The wise words of Derek Stepan correctly point out Henrik Lundqvist needs to stay true to form from games one, three and four rather than the 11 combined goals he allowed in overtime losses in games two and five.