Penguins eliminate Capitals in Game 7: Ranking the 30, yes 30, stars for Pittsburgh’s series

NHL gives out three stars every game. After the Pens beat the Caps, we’re giving out 30.

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After every NHL contest, the three stars of the game are awarded. It was no different last night in Washington, D.C., when the Penguins eliminated the Capitals in Game 7 and the honors went to Marc-Andre Fleury (of course), Bryan Rust (yep) and Braden Holtby (haha, wut).

But the outcome of that game was far too good for just three measly stars. So here are the 30 stars of the game, in no particular order.

30. Marc-Andre Fleury

The guy who was supposedly on his way out of town, just saved the team (and every Capitals shot). He’s the Flower That Saved Pittsburgh.

29. The Steps

28. Caps fans

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You know, for not stabbing anyone who was taunting them from the steps of the National Portrait Gallery. Thanks, Caps fans! Sincerely.

27. Good things happening to good people

26. The smile Fleury wanted to see

25. Bad things happening to bad people

When you put trash in your Tom Wilson today, thank the waste can for scoring 0 points in the series, being a minus-3 and going 0-for-11 on shots. Hashtag: blessed. Hashtag: garbage. Hashtag: Tom Wilson.

24. Evgeni Malkin’s predictions

23. Pens Knitting Lady

From The Pensblog all the way to the Wall Street Journal. Maybe she can do the Capitals a favor and knit them a replica Stanley Cup.

22. Bryan Rust

He always seems to find the back of the net in big games, and his goal midway through the second period silenced the arena and put the Capitals fully into panic/playoff mode.

21. Braden Holtby

He always seems to find pucks in the back of his net in big games. And he is also mean to his stick. Sad!

20. Marc-Andre Fleury’s shaft

Whereas as Marc-Andre Fleury is nice to his stick. Very nice.

19. Your dad

First of all, for raising you a Penguins fan. But also for remaining a very good player at his age.

18. The whole 4th line

Cullen, Scott Wilson and especially Carter Rowney were outstanding in Game 7. Rowney was all over the ice and when his No. 37 jersey folded the right way, it looked at times like there was another 87 out there. An outstanding game from start to finish by the man from Sexsmith, Alberta.

17. Chad Ruhwedel

Forced into major playoff minutes due to the injuries to Kris Letang and Trevor Daley, Ruhwedel did well. How well? We can all spell “Ruhwedel” now with ease. And they said it could never be done.

16. Matt Niskanen

It seems so long ago now that he accidentally (or very much on purpose depending on your point of view!) nearly ended Sidney Crosby’s series/career. But despite losing the series, Niskanen does sort of get to move on in the playoffs by having his name covered up on the back of Fleury’s mask. Congrats to Matt.

15. Jake Guentzel

With his assist on the game’s opening goal, Guentzel became the highest-scoring rookie in Penguins playoff history with 14 points, eight of them coming in the series against the Caps. FYI: Connor McDavid had 9 points in Edmonton’s entire playoff run. Yeah.

14. Wolverine’s sad brother

13. Patric Hornqvist

What a shot.

 12. Alexander Ovechkin

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Ovechkin’s inability to get the puck out of the zone led to Hornqvist getting the puck on his stick. Then Kevin Shattenkirk failed to strip the puck before the shot. And then Holtby seemingly wasn’t ready for it to come his way. The three guys who were supposed to make the difference in Washington’s latest “this is their year,” all failed in less than three seconds.

11. Bryan Dumoulin

10. Mike Sullivan

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He was out-coached by Capitals head coach A Large Human Thumb in Games 5 and 6. But he did everything right in Game 7.

9. Ripping hearts out on the road

8. Nicklas Backstrom

This quote is more confusing than Geico choosing to build a years-long ad campaign around a secondary star on a team that has never made it out of the 2nd Round of the playoffs.

7. Equipment manager Dana Heinze

He tended to Fleury’s skate early in the game when the Capitals controlled play, slowing their momentum. And then he (mostly) cleaned up after the game was over.

6. [insert any player not mentioned yet]

This means you, Phil Kessel.

5. The Capitals organization

I don’t mean this as a rip on the Capitals (really): their continued failure in the playoffs should make Penguins fans realize how fortunate they’ve been during the Crosby-Malkin era. Remember how some were calling for the Penguins to trade Crosby and Malkin because they didn’t get back to the Cup Finals in the handful of years after they made back-to-back Finals? The Capitals have never even won a 2nd Round series in 12 years with Alexander Ovechkin.

4. Sidney Crosby

He was at his full powers on Wednesday night and seemingly healthy. No, I’m not a trained medical expert. So, yes, that makes me qualified to work for the NHL.

3. Marc

2. Andre

“I’m very proud to still be a Penguins and I’m having a lot of fun.”

1. Fleury

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Thanks, Flower.