Skip to main content
playoffs

Capitals 'didn't want to give up' and lose Game 5

Improved power play, focused Holtby help extend series against Penguins

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals weren't ready to go home for the summer so they did something about it.

With the Capitals season on the line Saturday, they came through with a 3-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series at Verizon Center. They still trail the best-of-7 series 3-2, but they'll get to play a Game 6 at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN) and, if necessary, a Game 7 back at home on Thursday.

"Whatever happened today doesn't matter. It's done," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We're moving forward and see what the next game brings and if we can bring our best game it will give us a chance to have success."

Although the Capitals "best game" has room for improvement, they did a lot of things better than they had in the first four games of the series. If Trotz had a wish list for Game 5, he was able to check off several items on it.

Video: Capitals regain confidence with Game 5 effort

Captain Alex Ovechkin was a force, leading the way by scoring the first goal of the game and assisting on T.J. Oshie's winner 4:00 into the second period.

Goalie Braden Holtby, who hadn't been satisfied with his play, made 30 saves, including impressive ones on Patric Hornqvist and Justin Schultz 16 seconds apart late in the second period.

Right wing Justin Williams, who was signed last summer for his experience in big games, also scored.

Ovechkin and Oshie's goals came on the power play, which went 1-for-12 in the first four games of the series and 2-for-5 in Game 5.

"We didn't want to give up," Ovechkin said. "It doesn't matter what kind of position we are (in). We knew we have to do it. Obviously, it was a hard game. They played well. It was two teams battling with each other and we won the game. [Now], forget it and the next one is a big one. We can't stop."

Ovechkin did not stop all game. He set the tone from his first shift, hounding and controlling the puck in the offensive zone.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm 5: Ovechkin fires a one-timer for PPG

On his second shift, he drew a hooking penalty on Bryan Rust 3:56 into the game and needed only eight seconds on the resulting power play to hammer a shot from the top of the left circle in over Penguins rookie goalie Matt Murray's glove. Oshie's go-ahead goal came on the rebound off of an Ovechkin blast from the left circle that Murray left in front.

"He's our leader. We look up to him," Oshie said. "When you see a guy like him that can beat you in so many different ways come out and bring that type of energy, you'd better get on board or just stay on the bench."

Holtby had been overshadowed for much of the first four games by Murray, the 21-year-old who stole Game 3 with 47 saves in a 3-2 victory and then again in a 3-2 overtime win in Game 4. Holtby was plagued by a couple of odd bounces but also thought he could have done more.

"I wanted to make a difference for our team, show that I would rebound just like all of us," Holtby said.

Holtby did that Saturday, particularly with his highlight-reel saves on Hornqvist and Schultz. He kicked out his right pad to stop Hornqvist in front and then got his glove up to thwart Schultz on a 4-on-2 rush.

"You need to own the big moments and [Saturday] Braden did that for sure," Williams said.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Williams converts turnover into goal

As a three-time Stanley Cup winner, Williams' presence in the locker room alone is invaluable for the Capitals, who are trying to get beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1998. The Capitals also signed him because he is a clutch playoff performer and he's heating up when they need him most, with two goals and an assist in the past three games.

Williams scored to make it 3-1 at 9:58 of the second period after Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin coughed the puck up to him in the high slot. Williams made that mistake a costly one by beating Murray between the pads.

"The guys responded well," Ovechkin said. "We have great group of guys here, who are stepping up (for) each other and believing in each other. We just have to do the same, play hard and we'll see what happens."

The Capitals are smart enough to know they still have a lot of work to do, but they've already held off elimination once. If they can do it again Tuesday, they'll have all the momentum on their side heading into a Game 7.

"We had a really, really good meeting [Friday]," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. "We all got together after practice and just talked about it, and we just said we're really, really tight and no one wants to be finished playing right now. I think you're going to see probably the best hockey that this team has played."

View More