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Caps explode for 3 goals in the third period to save Game 5 and the season

Caps explode for 3 goals in the third period to save Game 5 and the season

Final score: Washington Capitals 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 2

How it happened: It looked like more of the same for the Caps as they jumped out to a lead in shots on goal, but the Penguins struck first in the first period with a goal from Carl Hagelin. Washington was able to tie it with just 30 seconds remaining in the first period, however, as Andre Burakovsky showed off a nice curl and drag move before firing the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh retook the lead in the second period with a one-time from Phil Kessel on the power play. Just when it felt that all hope was lost, Nicklas Backstrom struck in the third period to tie the game. Then Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin scored within 27 seconds of one another to blow this game open for Washington.

What it means:  The win extends the series to six games with Game 6 coming in Pittsburgh. Washington trails in the series 3-2 and still must win their next two games.

Penguins goal: Carl Hagelin from Ron Hainsey and Nick Bonino at 10:24 in the 1st period. With the puck on the boards in the defensive zone, four Caps players collapsed on one side leaving Wilson alone to cover the rest of the ice. Hagelin found a lane in between and fired off the shot for the goal. Caps 0, Penguins 1

Caps goal: Andre Burakovsky from Lars Eller and Kevin Shattenkirk at 19:30 in the 1st period. Eller entered the offensive zone and dropped the pass back to Burakovsky. Burakovsky pulled off the nasty curl and drag to get away from Matt Cullen and beat Marc-Andre Fleury with the wrister. Caps 1, Penguins 1

Penguins goal: Phil Kessel (power play) from Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby at 4:20 in the 2nd period. The Penguins put on a passing clinic on the power play, giving the Caps fits with the triangle until Malkin was able to hit Kessel on the far side. Kessel hit the perfect shot that hit off the post, off the blocker and into the net. Caps 1, Penguins 2

Caps goal: Nicklas Backstrom from Andre Burakovsky at 2:49 in the 3rd period. Backstrom and Burakovsky tag-teamed a rush up the left side with Backstrom finishing off the play with a beautiful wrister. Caps 2, Penguins 2

Caps goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Marcus Johansson and John Carlson at 7:20 in the 3rd period. A shot from Johansson was blocked and fell to Kuznetsov at the goal line, He had pretty much no angle to shoot on, but still snuck the puck past Fleury to give Washignton the lead. Caps 3, Penguins 2

Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin from Lars Eller and Nate Schmidt at 7:47 in the 3rd period. Ovechkin took the puck from center ice, skated into the offensive zone, fired a shot that was blocked by Ron Hainsey, but collected the rebound and rifled a shot that beat the glove of Fleury. It came just 27 seconds after Kuznetsov's go-ahead goal. Caps 4, Penguins 2

3 Caps stars

1. Barry Trotz: With the season on the line, Trotz made a bold move by moving Ovechkin to the third line and switching Burakovskly to the first. How did that go? Two points for Burakovsky, a goal for the Great 8 and a Game 5 win.

2. Andre Burakovsky: That was a nasty curl and drag for the goal. The Caps needed more secondary scoring and the onus was put on Burakovsky as Trotz tabbed him to start the game on the first line. The lines shuffled throughout the game, but Burakovsky responded with a first period goal and an assist on Backstrom's game-tying tally in the third.

3. Nicklas Backstrom: As the clock ticked in the third period, it began to feel like all was lost...until Backstrom wristed one past Fleury to put the Caps right back in it.

Look ahead: The series returns to Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Monday. If necessary, Game 7 will be in Washington on Wednesday.

Watch the game? Tell us what you thought!


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Key Caps questions: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?


Key Caps questions: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

Tarik: The term ‘Stanley Cup Hangover’ exists because, well, it’s a real thing. And the Caps, like all teams that battle into early June, are vulnerable to suffering from it next season.

Why? Think about it. No. 1, the core group just completed the longest season—106 games—of their lives (and, somewhere, the party is still going). No. 2, the top guys aren't exactly a bunch of spring chickens. No. 3, human nature.

A little more on that last one. Alex Ovechkin and Co. have spent the entirety of their professional hockey careers chasing Lord Stanley’s Cup. And now they have it. At long last. Hoisting the Cup was as much a moment to cherish as it was a gigantic relief for a team that had been labeled perennial underachievers. Shifting gears from that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment back to hunger and determination is difficult.

Something else that worries me a bit? They don’t have experience dealing with a truncated offseason. Rest and recovery matter. And they aren’t going to get much of either this summer.

All that said, they don’t have to stumble through the 2018-19 season. If you're looking at things from the optimist's point of view, the Cup run did something for Ovechkin and his teammates that none of the previous failures could: It showed them EXACTLY what it takes to play deep into the spring.

Eleven out of 12 forwards from the championship squad are expected back. Five of six defensemen and the goalie are returning, as well. Sure, they’ve got a new head coach, but he’s been here for four years already, giving him a huge advantage over a bench boss who’s starting from scratch. So there’s continuity and chemistry already built in.

I look at it like this: The core guys who’ve been around a while—Ovechkin, Backstrom, Carlson, Holtby, etc.—have a rare opportunity before them. After coming up short for so many years, they’ve been gifted an extraordinary chance to make up for lost time over the next 12-24 months. In fact, Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Oshie, Eller, Carlson, Niskanen, Orlov, Kempny and Holtby have two more years together, as a core, before the next round of tough decisions will need to be made.

But it’s going to be up to them. Are they going to be satisfied with one Cup? Or will they get greedy? I’m betting on the latter.

Regan: The Capitals could enter next season hungry, motivated, in the right mindset, completely prepared in every way to avoid a Cup hangover and it may still happen. Why? Because the Capitals (and Vegas for that matter) will enter next season with less time to rest, recover and prepare after a grueling playoff run than any other team in the NHL.

First things first, no, I do not think the Caps will struggle because they are are partying too hard this summer and won't be ready for the start of the season.

It took a long time Washington to finally reach the top of the mountain. It won't be lost on Alex Ovechkin, or any of the veterans, that the year he came into training camp early and in really good shape, that was the year he was able to lead his team to the promised land. Considering all the struggles, all the early playoff exits, all the years it took to finally win, I expect the veterans will look at how they prepared last season and take that lesson to heart going into camp. Those players will enter the fall in as good a shape as the time they have this offseason will allow them to be.

But this team is not just composed of veterans of the Ovechkin era who suffered through all of those postseason struggles.

What about the youngsters? Will Jakub Vrana have the same motivation as Ovechkin or a Nicklas Backstrom to show up to camp ready next season? What about Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey? If any of the team's young players aren't exactly in "game shape" by the fall, they won't be the first and they certainly won't be the last to struggle with early career playoff success.

There's also a new head coach to consider. In a lot of ways, I think coming into the season with a new coach in Todd Reirden will help. I don't expect too much adjustment under a coach the team knows very well, but I do expect more motivation at the start of the regular season than you usually see from a team coming off a championship.

There are a lot of reasons why the Caps could actually avoid a Cup hangover, but the fact is that time puts them at a disadvantage. Even if they overcome all the other factors, there's nothing they can do to suddenly give themselves more time to recover and to train. For that reason alone, I do expect a few early-season struggles from the defending champs.

Other key questions

How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo may have won the American Century Championships celebrity golf tournament this weekend, but T.J. Oshie definitely had the most fun.

Using the Modified Stableford scoring format for the tournament — which included several pro and retired athletes, such as Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, Charles Barkley and Joe Pavelski — Oshie finished with 11 points, tying for 48th with NFL Hall of Famer Tim Brown and Golf Channel host Lisa Cornwell. 

But the Capitals' winger's score didn't really matter because Oshie was out on the Lake Tahoe golf course in Nevada just having fun with his family and continuing the epic celebration as a new Stanley Cup champion. Obviously, that meant playing and chugging a beer through his t-shirt as 'We Are The Champions' played.

His brother, Taylor, was his caddy, and at one point, Oshie borrowed his brother's beer helmet while putting. He sunk it, and it was amazing.

Yeah, Oshie had a great weekend. Here's a look at some other moments from his weekend on Lake Tahoe.