-- The Pittsburgh Penguins knew at some point they would have to win a game at the Verizon Center in order to win their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Washington Capitals.
They accomplished that in Game 5. The next step is making sure they don't have to do it again.
The Penguins' 4-3 overtime victory Saturday night moved them within one victory of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season. Before that happens, however, they need to get a win in Game 6 Monday night back in Pittsburgh. Otherwise, they'll be back in Washington for Game 7 on Wednesday.
"I think we did a lot of good things," Sidney Crosby
said of his team's Game 5 effort. "I don't think we need to change a whole lot. Today we got a lead and they scored late, so we want to avoid that, but I don’t think it's by changing anything."
What worked for the Penguins in Game 5 were the same things that worked for them in the previous two games -- controlling the puck for long stretches of time, playing as much as possible in the Washington end and continuing to get shots on net and battle for rebounds and loose pucks, both of which have been in ample supply.
For the second time in three games, they put 42 shots on Capitals goalie Simeon Varlamov -- and three of their four goals came from aggressively putting pucks and bodies at the net.
"These games come down to mistakes and bounces, and we've been able to make a few less (mistakes) here and got a good bounce on the last goal," Crosby said.
It was Crosby's drive to the net that helped set up the game-winning goal. With a Penguins power play winding down, Evgeni Malkin
carried the puck down the right side in the Capitals' zone. Crosby drove the middle of the ice to get to the net, which drew Caps defenseman Tom Poti. As Poti went down to block Malkin's centering pass, the puck hit his stick and deflected between Varlamov's pads.
"I was thinking about getting off there," Crosby said. "I looked up at the clock and there were 30 seconds left (in the power play) when the puck went down the ice. I didn't feel too winded and thought we might have a chance to get in there one more time and set something up. Geno (Malkin) got the puck wide, don't know how it got to him, he had a lot of speed coming down the wing there. I drove the net and he just threw it at the net and it hit a defensemen's stick and went five-hole. Good things happen when you put it at the net and it was good to see it go in."
It's the second time the Pens have won a game in this series in overtime, and it's the second time the winning goal has gone in off a Washington player. In Game 3, it was Kris Letang
's long shot deflecting off Shaone Morrisonn and past Varlamov.
Crosby was asked if the hockey gods are on the Penguins' side, but the Pittsburgh captain said it was more hard work than divine intervention that has led to his team's good fortune.
"We have to work hard to get the bounces," Crosby said. "We hit two crossbars (in the) the second half of the game. Those go in and we're not talking about overtime. We've created a lot of good opportunities and sometimes they haven't gone in, but they've found a way to even out. You work hard for those breaks."Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Staff Writer