Capitals

Penguins eliminated in qualifying round but now could win the top-overall draft pick

Capitals

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ postseason came to an abrupt end on Friday as they were defeated in just four games by the 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens shut out Pittsburgh in Game 4 to close out the series. Few gave Montreal, a team with a 31-31-9 record in the regular season, much of a chance, but the Canadiens have now authored the biggest upset in the postseason thus far.

The Penguins began faltering down the stretch of the regular season, but with four new additions at the trade deadline and over four months to adjust, no one thought Pittsburgh would not be able to at least make it past the Habs.

And yet here we are.

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In four games, Sidney Crosby was limited to three points, Jake Guentzel three, Jason Zucker two and Evgeny Malkin only one. The only chance many gave Montreal was if goalie Carey Price stood on his head, but in fact he was not tested nearly as much as one may have thought in a series as seemingly lopsided on paper as this one.

Pittsburgh has now lost nine of its last 10 playoff games and the future of the team with the current core now is very much in doubt.

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Before you cheer too hard, Capitals fans, the silver-lining for Pittsburgh is that they will now have a 12.5-percent chance of winning the draft lottery and earning the chance to select phenom Alexis Lafreniere with the No. 1 overall pick. As Pittsburgh begins to think about life after Crosby and Malkin, getting the No. 1 overall pick will certainly jumpstart the eventual rebuild.

The loss means that Washington will play either the Carolina Hurricanes or New York Islanders in the first round of the playoffs. If the Caps win their final round robin game against the Boston Bruins on Sunday, they will face the Islanders. If they lose, they will play the Hurricanes.

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