WASHINGTON – After scoring only one goal in the last two games, the offense erupted for the Capitals on Saturday as the Caps dominated the Carolina Hurricanes 6-0 in Game 5. Washington will have a chance to close out the series on Monday as the series shifts back to Raleigh for Game 6.
The Caps were dominant from start to finish, but held only a 1-0 lead midway through the game. Two goals late in the second gave Washington some breathing room and the game turned into a laugher in the third as the Caps poured on three more goals.
Here are five reasons Washington won.
The role reversal continues
Alex Ovechkin is one of the best goal scorers to ever play the game and Nicklas Backstrom is a phenomenal set-up man. This series has seen those roles reversed and that continued on Saturday.
Backstrom scored the first two goals of the game and now has five in five games this series. Ovechkin, meanwhile, tallied two assists and now has four for the series.
Ovechkin did not get an assist on the first goal, but he essentially set up the play as he broke up a 2-on-1 by the Hurricanes at the blue line. He tipped the puck into the neutral zone and the Caps countered. John Carlson made a backhand pass to Backstrom, but Petr Mrazek read it beautifully and got over in time to make the save. Backstrom got his own rebound, however, and knocked it through the 5-hole.
Ovechkin also scored a goal in the third assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov and...Backstrom.
The penalty kill
Through the first half of the game, the Caps were dominating in just about every aspect of the game. The score was just 1-0, however, and they were playing with fire especially in the second after taking multiple penalties.
Washington was sent to the penalty box three times in the second, all while nursing a 1-0 lead. The penalty kill had to come up huge and it absolutely did, killing off all three second-period penalties plus another in the first period to keep the lead and the momentum all with the Caps.
Warren Foegele’s pass to no one
After killing off the third penalty of the period, Washington struck to take a 2-0 lead thanks to a huge mistake from Warren Foegele. Foegele had the puck at the Caps’ blue line, but was looking for a line change. Instead of dumping the puck into Washington’s zone, Foegele backhanded a pass to the other side of the ice to…no one. It was a completely unforced error and it cost the Hurricanes.
The only person anywhere close to the puck was Ovechkin. He got ahead of steam, grabbed the puck and, since the Hurricanes were on a line change, suddenly the Caps were in behind the defense. Jaccob Slavin came over to challenge Ovechkin with no help on the other side. Ovechkin delivered a perfect pass to Backstrom who scored his second goal of the game.
A bad mistake by Hamilton
Speaking of unforced errors, Dougie Hamilton sees your turnover and raises you a blown icing.
Less than two minutes after Backstrom’s second goal, he tried to return the favor with a long stretch pass from the defensive zone to Ovechkin. The puck went off of Ovechkin’s stick and down the ice. Hamilton, however, apparently did not know Ovechkin had touched the puck and skated very casually after it. It looked like he was assuming the play would be called dead for icing. It wasn’t.
While Hamilton was taking his time, Ovechkin went hard at the puck, cut in front of Hamilton and won it off the boards. He then fed a streaking Brett Connolly for his first goal of the playoffs.
Trailing 1-0 and with three power plays, Carolina had every opportunity to get back into this game. They didn’t and Holtby deserves a lot of credit for that. This was easily Holtby’s best game of the series.
Holtby has been good this series and was certainly not the reason Washington lost Games 3 or 4. But sometimes in the playoffs, you need your goalie to steal a few big saves and Holtby had not done that. He came up huge in Game 5 with a number of huge saves when Carolina was threatening to get back into the game.
Holtby totaled 30 saves on the night in the shutout performance. With the shoutout, he set a franchise record for most playoff shutouts with seven.
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