Capitals survive, force Game 6 vs. Penguins in 3-1 win
Alex Ovechkin had a goal and set up another. Braden Holtby was a brick wall. The power play was dangerous. The defense was stout when it needed to be at game’s end, and the offense was pressured all night.
In Game 5, the Washington Capitals looked like the Washington Capitals again. And when they look like that, they usually win.
Washington pushed the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Game 6 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series, winning Game 5 at home by a 3-1 count.
“You try to limit their chances. Not give them many odd-man rushes. And Holes was great back there all night,” said Capitals winger T.J. Oshie after the win on Saturday night.
Both Oshie and Holtby said after the game that the Capitals were “shooting to create goals,” and not just shooting for shot’s sake. And what a difference that mindset made on their second goal.
The teams traded power-play goals in the first period, with Ovechkin blasting one past Matt Murray at 4:04 on a feed from Nicklas Backstrom, and the Penguins getting the equalizer at 7:08 on a rebound chance from Chris Kunitz.
But the Capitals took the lead on the power play again, and again Ovechkin was a factor. He loaded the cannon and blasted one that Murray saved, but right to T.J. Oshie in front of his crease, who nudged it home at 4:00 of the second.
Justin Williams then scored his biggest goal as a Capital, and Murray had his shakiest goal given up in the playoffs:
Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin passed the puck nearly directly to Williams, who sent the puck through Murray’s 5-hole for the 3-1 lead.
Holtby, meanwhile, was masterful in stamping out and flicker of a Penguins’ comeback, especially on big saves on Justin Schultz …
… and Patric Hornqvist, to keep it at 3-1 after the second.
“We had a couple of Grade A chances that we didn’t finish on,” said coach Mike Sullivan.
Holtby kept the pucks out for the rest of the night, finishing with 30 saves. The defense in front of him helped, killing an important penalty in the third and not allowing a Penguins shot after they pulled Murray with over three minutes left.
And it was the Capitals’ power play that put pucks in, breaking out of a 1-for-22 funk that dated back to their series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
For the Penguins, there may be some questions about Murray, what with Marc-Andre Fleury sitting on the bench. But they still have two cracks at eliminating the Capitals, including Tuesday night at home.
Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
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