Four things we learned in the NHL: Kessel for Conn Smythe?

Watch as the Penguins and Capitals shake hands after an up-and-down series that ended in six games.

It wasn’t how they drew it up, but the Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the Washington Capitals in a thrilling Game 6 that required extra time.

The Pens gave up a 3-0 lead but managed to make amends by scoring in overtime. They’ve now won 57 consecutive games (regular season and playoffs) when leading after two periods.

On the flipside, it’s yet another disappointing conclusion to the season for Barry Trotz’s team. In fact, Washington hasn’t made it past the second round since their Stanley Cup appearance in 1998. Over the last nine seasons, they’ve won six division titles, two Presidents’ Trophies but post-season failure has been the mark of the franchise.

The Capitals are now 1-8 all time in playoff series against the Penguins.

Here are four more things we learned Tuesday.

You can’t deny Kessel is a proven playoff performer

Phil Kessel has been criticized throughout his career for being inconsistent and perhaps not always giving 100 per cent on the defensive side of the game. You can’t deny he shows up in the post-season.

The winger was the No. 1 star of Game 6 after scoring two goals and adding an assist on Nick Bonino’s overtime winner. Kessel now leads the Penguins with 12 points through 11 playoff games this year — 33 points in 33 career post-season games split between the Bruins, Leafs and Pens.

Chris Johnston on Twitter

Without prompting, Sidney Crosby mentioned Kessel/#leafs-#bruins Game 7. “I’m sure he’s pretty happy. He didn’t want to be in two of those.”

There is still plenty of hockey to be played and the Penguins will have their hands full with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, but if Kessel keeps up his strong output and the Pens advance or ultimately win the Stanley Cup, the thought of Phil the Thrill accepting the Conn Smythe Trophy isn’t that crazy.

Pens survive trio of puck-over-the-glass calls

Game 6 may not have made it into overtime were it not for somewhat of an anomaly. Midway through the third period, the Penguins racked up three delay of game penalties for shooting the puck over glass. Glenn Healy mentioned on the broadcast that no team in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs had ever been charged with three of those penalties in one game. The Penguins did it in a span of 2:02.

Leah Hextall on Twitter

Penguins with a natural hatrick of delay of game penalties. #StanleyCup

Chris Johnston on Twitter

This.pic.twitter.com/vj4lwjq2iZ

“That was tough. I’ve never seen that before,” Sidney Crosby told Scott Oake after the game. “For us to deal with it the way we did and come out and play the overtime the way we did. We bounced back.”

‘Mr. Game 7’ shows up in Game 6

Justin Williams might be known as “Mr. Game 7” but he could just as easily go by the moniker “Mr. I Show Up Big Time When My Team Is Facing Elimination” – you know, or something more catchy but along the same lines.

His teams are 7-0 in Game 7s. He has seven goals and seven assists in those contests. That’s where his nickname comes from. It has helped lead him to winning three Stanley Cups (one with the Hurricanes and two with the Kings) and a Conn Smythe Trophy in 2014.

It’s not only Game 7s when Williams steps up his game. It’s whenever his team is on the brink of elimination. So, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise when Williams had a goal and assist in the third period Tuesday as his Capitals battled back from a 3-0 deficit to send the game to overtime.

He now has 14 goals and 12 assists in 19 career elimination games, and heading into Game 6, his 0.73 points per game when facing elimination ranked third best in NHL history.

Sportsnet Stats on Twitter

Caps Justin Williams now has 14 goals in 19 playoff games when facing elimination

Beagle was nearly the hero

For a few minutes early in overtime, it looked as though Jay Beagle’s remarkable diving save could go down in sports lore as one of the truly great plays in post-season competition. Just imagine if the Capitals found a way to win Game 6, take Game 7 at home, and get by the Lightning in the conference final. The save would have been the stuff of legend. Instead, it will be remembered simply as a great play in a losing cause.

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