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Backstrom’s hat trick lifts Capitals in OT, 6-5

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It took just 31 seconds, but the Washington Capitals completed one incredible comeback after Nicklas Backstrom’s goal in overtime tied the series 1-1. It was the first playoff hat trick of Backstrom’s young career, and it was a howitzer of a shot over Halak’s shoulder. Halak has slowly been losing his confidence in net, and Backstrom let loose with the perfect shot to beat the Habs goaltender after he had allowed the game-tying goal just minutes before the end of regulation.

The Capitals were fueled by the emotional and aggressive play by Alex Ovechkin in the third period, who finished with a goal and three assists. It was certainly the performance the Capitals needed from their captain, who had all but disappeared in the first five periods of the series.

Things certainly started to immediately unravel for the Canadiens in the third period, when they abandoned the disciplined and controlled defensive game that had been so successful for them. Scott Gomez showed some tenacity and toughness during a scrum after a pileup in the Habs net, but sitting for five minutes for fighting while his team struggled on the power play is not exactly what the Habs needed.

So where does the win take the series? It’s obvious that after so much frustration for so long against the Canadiens, the Capitals finally have their confidence back. It’s a scary proposition for the Habs, who were 90 seconds from taking a 2-0 series lead back to Montreal, yet now the momentum is suddenly swinging in the other direction.