Facing elimination heading into Game Five against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals were looking for answers. Barry Trotz looked to find some when he moved Alex Ovechkin to the third line to play along side Lars Eller and Tom Wilson. Prior to Game Five, the Capitals had just one assist from their bottom six forwards through the first four games in the series.
Washington came out as expected and looked the best they have at any point in this Eastern Conference Semifinal. Pittsburgh survived the onslaught to begin the game and were able to open the scoring with a Carl Hagelin wrist shot just after the half-way point of the first period. Andre Burakovsky, who took Ovechkin’s spot on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie, scored the equalizer very late in the first.
#GottaSeeIt: Andre Burakovsky holds it, drags it, then snipes it past Fleury to tie things up between the Capitals and Penguins.#StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/8YPG6EY2M0
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 7, 2017
This was Burakovsky’s first goal of the playoffs and was easily his best game of the series. Getting goals from each of the top three lines was exactly how Barry Trotz envisioned this lineup juggling working out. Washington ran into a similar issue in last years’ second round series against the Penguins. If they hope to avoid another defeat to Pittsburgh, production from throughout the lineup will be a necessity.
Phil Kessel scored the lone goal in the second period to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead. With 20 minutes left and on the brink of elimination, Washington scored three goals in six minutes and never looked back. Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Alex Ovechkin, were able to find the back of the net for the Caps. Following Game Four, Ovechkin said he had to be better. He responded with his move to the third line by scoring his fifth goal of the playoffs. The goal ties him for the team lead with TJ Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom. Burakovsky and Ovechkin both seemed to adapt well to their moves in the lineup, as this was also Ovechkin’s first goal of the series.
Alex Ovechkin rips one past Marc-Andre Fleury to double the Capitals lead!
Braden Holtby was in Vezina form in the win. With Game Six looming, this is a redemption opportunity for the ages.
The Capitals were in the exact same position a year ago, down 3-2 and heading to Pittsburgh for Game Six. The Penguins won that game and went on to win the Stanley Cup as well. Washington will need to follow up their Game Five performance with another strong one too even up the series.
Game Six goes Monday, 7:30 P.M at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.