Washington Capitals stay alive, beat Penguins in Game 5

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 06: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals scores at 7:47 of the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on May 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals scored three goals in the third period of Saturday’s Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins to avoid elimination and get back in their series in a 4-2 win.

The Capitals were down 2-1 entering the final frame against the Pens. Washington is now down 3-2 in the series with Game 6 on Monday in Pittsburgh.

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“We are big boys, so I think we understand what we have to do and if we play well, if we don’t play well,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “We knew in the big games you have to play hard. If you don’t shoot the puck or you don’t control the puck, you have to do some different things. You can see we turn it around, and in the third period, everybody was on the same page. You can see how calm we are at the end – no panic. Everybody knew what they have to do.”

One of the biggest developments of Game 5 was Washington’s ability to get to Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, while the Capitals finally received high-end netminding from Braden Holtby.

Fleury allowed four goals on 32 shots on goal while Holtby made 20 saves on 22 shots on goal. Holtby didn’t allow a goal in the third period when his team needed him the most and made several point-blank saves. Coming into the game, Holtby held an .867 save percentage this round.

The Capitals’ four goals were also the most they had scored against the Penguins in this postseason. Washington is trying to not be eliminated by the Penguins in the second-round for the second straight season.

“The leadership did all the good things for us tonight,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “They really did.”

The Capitals got their comeback started at the 2:49 mark of the third period, Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom fired a wrist shot past Fleury to tie the game at 2-2.

Then at the 7:20 mark of the third, Caps forward Evgeny Kuznetsov fired a bad angle shot past Fluery to give Washington a 3-2 lead.


Ovechkin then scored his biggest goal of the series just 27 seconds later when he took a shot in the slot past Fleury to put the team up 4-2.

Before the third, the game felt similar to previous contests with the Capitals outshooting the Penguins 18-10, but Pittsburgh cashing in on a majority of chances. Going into Saturday the Caps had outshot the Penguins every game this series, but had been outscored 14-9.

The Penguins got on the board first in the first period off a wrist shot by forward Carl Hagelin in the slot past Holtby’s glove at the 10:24 mark.

Burakovsky answered with his own wrister past Fleury at the 19:30 mark of the first to tie the game at 1-1.

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Early in the second period the Penguins drew a power play on a hold by Caps defenseman Nate Schmidt and on the ensuing man-advantage Phil Kessel ripped a one timer past Holtby. This was just one of three shots on goal the Penguins took in the second frame.

The game was the first for Penguins captain Sidney Crosby after he suffered a concussion in Game 3. Crosby notched one assist, played 19:10 and won 68 percent of his faceoffs.

“They just got some momentum,” Crosby said. “We had our chances to build on that lead. We didn’t, and then they tie it up and get some life off that and then gained some momentum there for a short span. You’re going to lose momentum sometimes. Unfortunately we gave up some goals in the process of that.”

Saturday also featured Ovechkin on the third-line, a move that seemed to pay off for Washington. Burakovsky, who took Ovechkin’s spot on the first-line, also added an assist on Backstrom’s goal. Ovechkin’s goal was his first since Game 1 of this series.

“When we met as a coaching staff, what we wanted to do was get more scoring through all of our lines,” Trotz said of the decision to swap Ovechkin and Burakovsky. “And that was the intent, and today we did. We’ll see what we do next game, but I felt that all of the lines were going pretty well for us today.”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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