Capitals Stay Alive with 3 Goals in 3rd Period, Beat Penguins 4-2 in Game 5 – Bleacher Report

Capitals Stay Alive with 3 Goals in 3rd Period, Beat Penguins 4-2 in Game 5 – Bleacher Report


WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 06: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals scores at 7:47 of the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins and is embraced by Kevin Shattenkirk #22 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)

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals found themselves on the brink of elimination heading into the third period of Game 5, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. And then Washington exploded.

In a span of eight minutes to start the final period, the Capitals scored three times, Braden Holtby made several superb saves, and the Capitals secured a 4-2 victory that forced a Game 6 in Pittsburgh. 

It was a moment of resilience, as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe noted:

That resilience was all the more surprising given Washington’s habit of folding in the postseason. Despite regularly dominating in the regular season and nine playoff appearances in the past 10 seasons, the Capitals haven’t reached the Eastern Conference Final once in that time.

Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post joked the Capitals channeled their regular-season form late in Game 5:

Despite the huge win, however, the Penguins still maintain a 3-2 advantage in the series.

Andre Burakovsky (one goal, one assist) and Holtby (20 saves on 22 attempts) led the way for the Capitals, while Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin also scored, and Lars Eller added two assistsCarl Hagelin and Phil Kessel scored for Pittsburgh, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves.

Hagelin opened the scoring for the Penguins halfway through the first period, finding himself alone in the center of the ice after a fantastic feed from Ron Hainsey. Hagelin took it from there, firing a wrister past Holtby.

With only 30 seconds remaining in the first, however, Burakovsky tied the proceedings with a brilliant toe drag and shot past Fleury. 

But the Penguins were back in the lead a little over four minutes into the second period following a masterful show of passing and vision before Kessel guided a laser beam past Holtby.

The Capitals couldn’t find an equalizer in the second, and the game headed into the third period before the Capitals saved their postseason lives with a breathless flurry of goals.

First came Backstrom’s wrister from the left circle just under three minutes into the period.

Less than five minutes later, Kuznetsov scooped up a deflection and gave the Capitals a lead from an unbelievable angle.

And 27 seconds after that, Alex Ovechkin made his presence felt, racing down the ice on the rush before sniping a lethal wrister past Fleury.

Despite Ovechkin’s up-and-down play in this series—he had a goal and three assists coming into Saturday’s Game 5—he was given a rousing ovation after that tally, per Pierre LeBrun of TSN:

Game 6 is scheduled for Monday night in Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m. ET. The teams split the first two games in Pittsburgh.

        

Postgame Reaction

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

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After the contest, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz praised his team’s composure and leadership, per Ed Frankovic of WNST:

“I thought Holts really stepped it up, Trotz added, per Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Mid-Atlantic. “He was huge.”

He also broke down the decision to drop Ovechkin to the third line, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post:

Trotz wasn’t the only one to have continued faith in Ovechkin. Kuznetsov was just as confident in his captain, as he told Khurshudyan:

The Penguins were a bit more somber, as expected, after the loss. But given their lead in the series and the chance to wrap things up at home, head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t ready to panic.

“We have to have a short memory, reset our mindset, go home and put our best game on the ice,” he said, per Sam Kasan of the team’s official site.

Fleury, meanwhile, was disappointed with his own effort in goal.

“Just today in general probably my worst one in all the playoffs I think,” he said, per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, adding: “ “I don’t know, kind of want to forget about it quickly and move on.”

Sullivan disagreed.

“He was solid. He’s made save after save,” he said, according to the Penguins on Twitter. “The goals they scored were good goals. We can do better in front of him.”

Given the explosiveness Washington displayed in the third period, the Penguins will have to do better. If they don’t, the two teams will head back to Washington for a decisive Game 7.



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