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game recap

Capitals defeat Flyers to advance to second round

Backstrom scores, Holtby has shutout in 1-0 win in Game 6; Washington plays Pittsburgh next

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom scored the only goal in the Capitals' 1-0 victory of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday.

The Capitals won the best-of-7 series 4-2 and will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. The Penguins defeated the New York Rangers in five games in their first-round series.

Washington and Pittsburgh will meet in the playoffs for the ninth time since 1991. Pittsburgh has won seven of the prior eight series.

Braden Holtby made 26 saves for his second shutout of the series and his 20th career win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, tying Olaf Kolzig for most in Capitals history.

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm6: Holtby makes clutch saves in the 3rd

Backstrom was in the penalty box for four minutes in the second period of a scoreless game after being called for high-sticking Flyers forward Ryan White at 4:25.

Five seconds later, teammate Matt Niskanen joined him when he was called for hooking, giving the Flyers a two-minute, two-man advantage.

"I was pretty nervous in there," Backstrom said.

The Flyers had three shots on goal during the 5-on-3 but Holtby stopped them all. The power play ended with 30 seconds left in Backstrom's penalty when White was called for holding the stick.

"The 5-on-3 today, if we don't get through that, this building probably explodes," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We were able to get through that. Once we got through that I felt like we were going to find a way to win the hockey game."

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm6: Backstrom buries home Johansson's feed

The Capitals had a short power play, and four seconds after it ended Backstrom one-timed a Marcus Johansson pass from the right circle high over a lunging Neuvirth.

"I just wanted to one-time it," Backstrom said. "It's hard for the goalies when you put it high on a one-timer."

Neuvirth made 28 saves for the Flyers, who had won two straight after falling behind 3-0 in the series. Neuvirth replaced Steve Mason in goal to start Game 4, and allowed two goals on 105 shots in the final three games. That includes a 44-save shutout in Game 5 when the Flyers won 2-0 despite 11 shots on goal.

"The stats show it all, two goals in three games," Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. "It's too bad we couldn't help him with our goals a little bit. [Mason] got us into the playoffs and [Neuvirth] was great in the playoffs. I think both goalies supported each other pretty well. They are one of the reasons we made it this far."

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm6: Neuvirth denies Beagle on the doorstep

In Neuvirth's three starts the Flyers scored four goals, and one was an empty-netter. They scored six goals in six games and went 1-for-24 on the power play.

Captain Claude Giroux had two shots on goal in Game 6. He led the Flyers in scoring during the regular season but was held to one point in six games. Wayne Simmonds, who led the Flyers with 32 goals, had two assists. He had four shots on goal in Game 6.

"I'm pretty frustrated with myself," Giroux said. "I've got to find a way, doesn't matter how it is. You've got to find a way."

The Flyers had one last push in the final 1:35 of the third period with Neuvirth pulled for an extra attacker. They had two shots on goal but Holtby stopped Shayne Gostisbehere's point shot and Voracek's attempt on the rebound.

"You kind of figure, especially when they have a couple guys that are really good in front of the net, that they're going to funnel pucks to the net and hope for bounces and deflections and they got a couple," Holtby said. "Luckily I found some sight lines, got a couple key blocks. We've been good 6-on-5 all year, it's been one of our strengths, and we were good again tonight."

Holtby didn't have much work during the series, but when he was needed he came through.

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm6: Holtby stones Bellemare in the 3rd

"If you ask any goaltender, when you're staring down the ice the last four periods and you're not getting any shots, you start watching the game instant of playing the game," Trotz said. "And then they get into your end and you're out of sync. ... To me, this is why Braden has been so good. It's not only that he makes big saves for us, he makes timely saves. They had a good push there at the end. They had a puck to the side of the net and he got over real quick and made that big timely save in a key moment in the game. When you have a goaltender like that, you've got a chance to win every night."

That the Capitals had lost back-to-back games in regulation in Games 4 and 5 -- something they hadn't done during the regular season -- allowed a bit of doubt to creep into their mind. But their win Sunday gives them confidence moving forward.

"We have to mentally forget about this series and focus on the next one," Ovechkin said. "Pittsburgh is huge. We knew this game had to be good tonight and we did a good job."

It will be the second time Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will face each other in the postseason. The Penguins defeated the Capitals in seven games in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals. In that series, won by the Penguins in seven games, Ovechkin had eight goals and six assists; Crosby had eight goals and five assists. Ovechkin and Crosby also each had their first career postseason hat tricks in Game 2.

"Probably most fun series I've played in," Backstrom said. "It's a good team. I'm excited to play them again. It's going to be fun."

Video: Capitals win Game 6, 1-0, to advance to Round 2

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