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Backstrom ties it with 5 sec. left to force OT vs. Rangers

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Backstrom ties it with 5 sec. left to force OT vs. Rangers

Nicklas Backstrom forced overtime against the Rangers by scoring with five seconds left in regulation.

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Penguins in Game 1

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Penguins in Game 1

If you had to boil down the playoff history of the Washinton Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins into one game, Game 1 certainly seemed to fit the bill. The Capitals had their chances, they got good performances from star players and all of it came to naught as they were once again foiled by the Penguins in a 3-2 loss.

Here's Washington let this game slip away.

Missed chances

The Caps were buzzing in the first period. Already up 1-0, Dmitry Orlov and Alex Ovechkin had an opportunity to add a second goal early on a 2-on-1. Orlov faked the shot then passed to Ovechkin who had a wide open net to shoot at…but he missed. Ovechkin doesn’t miss too many of those shots. Despite how good the Caps looked in the first period, they got only six pucks through to goalie Matt Murray and took only a 1-0 lead into the dressing room. In the second period, Devante Smith-Pelly was denied an empty net rebound by Murray (more on that later). We all knew the push was coming. We’ve seen this all play out before. Simply put, Washington did not convert on its opportunities when they had control of the game. A two-goal cushion was not enough to take the wind out of Pittsburgh's sails nor was it enough to survive the three-goal flurry that was to come.

A five-minute snowball in the third period

When the push finally came, it came fast. In a stretch that lasted for less than five minutes, Pittsburgh scored three times to turn a 2-0 Caps lead into a 3-2 deficit. Patrick Hornqvist deflected in a shot from Justin Schultz at 2:59, Sidney Crosby netted a pass from Jake Guentzel at 5:20 and Guentzel got a deflection goal of his own at 7:48. That is a span of 4:49. Pittsburgh’s momentum snowballed into three quick goals which carried them to the win. Braden Holtby was brilliant for 55:11, but those 4:49 were enough to doom the Caps.

Matt Murray

As good as Holtby was, Murray was better. Despite allowing a goal just 17 seconds in, he recovered very well in what was a 32-save performance. You can put some of this game on Washington’s inability to convert on its chances, but you also have to give credit to the Penguins’ netminder as well who came up with some big-time saves to keep his team in it. The biggest was in the second period when he extended the arm and blocked what looked like an easy goal for Smith-Pelly with the glove of his blocker. As hard as it was to beat Murray when the Caps were ahead, he was unbeatable when his team finally gave him a lead to work with.

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3 stars of the game: Caps yet again blow a late lead, yield Game 1 to Penguins

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3 stars of the game: Caps yet again blow a late lead, yield Game 1 to Penguins

A game that started off with so much hope and promise finished with a sickeningly familiar feeling as the Capitals squandered a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored just 17 seconds in and Alex Ovechkin put the Caps up 2-0 at the start of the third, but three the Penguins responded with three third-period goals to stun the Caps.

Here are the three stars of the game.

3 Stars of Capital vs. Penguins Game 1:

1. Jake Guentzel: Guentzel had 22 goals and 48 points in the regular season. Not a bad season by any means, but nothing to suggest he would turn into the second coming of Mario Lemieux in the playoffs again. Geuntzel clearly elevates his game when it comes to the playoffs and boy did he come up big for Pittsburgh. Down 2-0 in the third, Guentzel assisted on Patrik Hornqvist's goal.  Less than three minutes later, Guentzel at the blue line found Sidney Crosby with a cross-ice pass that Crosby was able to easily score on. Then Crosby returned the favor with a shot that Guentzel was able to deflect in for what would be the game-winning goal.

2. Alex Ovechkin: Once again, Ovechkin delivered in a big playoff game and once again, it wasn't enough. Ovechkin floated a pass to Kuznetsov behind the defense that Kuznetsov netted for a goal 17 seconds into the game. At the start of the third period, Ovechkin took a 2-on-1 opportunity and sniped the top corner to put the Caps up 2-0.

Say what you want about how one-sided the Ovechkin-Crosby rivalry is, but you could not come away from this game saying the Caps lost because Ovechkin doesn't perform in big moments. His performance indicated otherwise.

3. Matt Murray: Giving up a goal 17 seconds in is not an auspicious start, but Murray certainly recovered well.

Murray made 32 saves, several of which were of the phenomenal variety. The save of the game came in the second period when Murray extended the arm to deny Devante Smith-Pelly on what looked like an empty-net rebound opportunity. The puck bounced off the glove of Murray’s blocker. Once the Penguins took the 3-2 lead, Murray was absolutely lights out.