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game recap

Capitals rally past Penguins in Game 5, take lead in series

Vrana, Kuznetsov each has three points, Holtby makes 36 saves for Washington

by Brian McNally / NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals scored four goals in the third period to rally for a 6-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Capital One Arena on Saturday.

After Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made a pad save on Brian Dumoulin from in front, Jakub Vrana scored into an open net at 15:22 of the third off a pass from Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a 4-3 lead.

"I try to stay cool. [Ovechkin] made a great play there," said Vrana, who had a goal and two assists. "He just put it in front of the net. I was driving the net hard, trying to get the rebound. … Those little inches, sometimes they just kind of win you the game."

 

[WATCH: All Penguins vs. Capitals highlights Complete Capitals vs. Penguins series coverage]

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists, T.J. Oshie had a goal and an assist, and Holtby made 36 saves for Washington.

Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist and Jamie Oleksiak scored, and Matt Murray made 26 saves for Pittsburgh.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Crosby tips shot past Holtby for PPG

The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 with Game 6 at Pittsburgh on Monday. Washington would advance to the Eastern Conference Final and eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champion with a win.

"Your desperation level is a little higher," Crosby said. "You're aware of the situation and that brings out the best in everybody. We knew it was going to be a tight series. We need to make sure we leave it all out there, give ourselves a chance to get back here."

Kuznetsov scored 52 seconds into the third period on a breakaway off a stretch pass from Vrana to tie it 3-3.

Oshie scored into an empty net at 18:29 to make it 5-3 before Lars Eller extended it to 6-3 with an empty-net goal at 19:54.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Eller bags Caps' second empty-net goal

Oleksiak gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 2:23 of the first period, scoring on a shot from the point past a screened Holtby. John Carlson tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal at 18:22.

Brett Connolly scored 33 seconds later to make it 2-1, beating Murray five-hole after his shot in the high slot was deflected by Hornqvist.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Capitals score two in 33 seconds

Crosby tied it 2-2 at 4:43 of the second period on the power play, deflecting Phil Kessel's shot under Holtby's arm. Hornqvist scored a power-play goal at 7:45 on a rebound at the right post to make it 3-2.

Washington has not reached the conference final since 1998.

"Tonight was one of those games where we needed to earn it from our fans," Holtby said. "They probably think 'Here we go again,' and we're not thinking that. We're thinking we're pushing forward, we're focusing on the moment, and hopefully we gave them belief with that third period because this group in here believes in ourselves."

 

Goal of the game

Vrana's goal at 15:22 of the third period.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Vrana slams home go-ahead tally

 

Save of the game

Holtby's save on Dumoulin at 15:13 of the third period.

Video: R2, Gm5: Holtby robs Dumoulin's try in front

 

Highlight of the game

Kuznetsov's goal 52 seconds into the third period.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Kuznetsov pots backhand on break

 

They said it

"There was a whole lot of this game that we really liked. It might have been our best game of the series and we didn't come out with the result we were looking for. But I know our group is capable and our players know that as well." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan 

 

"I don't know if I could tell you exactly what it would mean. None of us have ever been there. We're just looking to get the job done and maybe after we can talk about the feelings. But right now, we've still got a lot of work to do." -- Capitals forward T.J. Oshie on the Eastern Conference Final

 

Need to know

Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom left at 6:48 of the third period with an upper-body injury. Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he will be re-evaluated Sunday. … The Penguins had not allowed six goals in a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since Game 2 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins (a 6-1 loss). … Vrana is the fourth rookie in Capitals history to get three points in a postseason game, joining Sergei Gonchar (Game 1 of 1995 Conference Quarterfinal), Richard Zednik (Game 3 of 1998 Conference Final), and Kuznetsov (Game 5 of 2015 First Round).

 

What's next

Game 6 of Eastern Conference Second Round at PPG Paints Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS)

Video: Caps' four-goal 3rd period leads them to Game 5 win

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