ARLINGTON, Va. -- The day before the Washington Capitals bought themselves at least another game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, coach Barry Trotz said he was going to learn what his team was made of.
Washington defeated the Penguins 3-1 on Saturday and forced a Game 6 on Tuesday at Consol Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN). Pittsburgh leads the best-of-7 series 3-2.
Trotz said he learned a lot from the game. He pointed specifically to the leadership in the room, evidenced by the meeting the players held on Friday, where they decided they weren't finished playing together yet.
"Well, I think that you saw they have a lot of trust in their game," Trotz said. "They have a lot of determination. I think they have a lot of resiliency. Everything that I knew about this team, I thought it played out [Saturday] night. We didn't panic. We had good determination. We had a good game plan. We stuck to the game plan."
Trotz said the players had confidence because he had confidence in them. Washington had a two-goal lead going into the third period of Game 5 and Trotz thought they protected the lead well.
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"It's hard to get leads in this day and age in the National Hockey League, and I thought we did a great job of managing the puck, managing the situation," Trotz said. "[Pittsburgh] had a good push, but I thought we had a good response to the type of push that they were going to have."
The Capitals had lost three consecutive games prior for the second time this season, not because they were playing badly, Trotz said; the Penguins were better.
"We thought that we played pretty decent games on the road in a tough environment against a really good hockey team, and we felt like we should have [won] one of those games," Trotz said.
But Trotz stayed the course with what worked during the regular season and everything seemed to come together. The power play scored two goals and Braden Holtby came up big late in the second period during a frantic push by the Penguins.
"I knew in the morning that we were going to be [successful]," Trotz said. "We had lost a game and it wasn't because we were playing poorly. It was because we got beat by a better team or our situation or what have you. Our team was pretty confident that we were going to come in and have a great effort, and the great thing about our team is that I think we feel that we can raise that level."