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Game 5 Recap Captials vs. Penguins: Washington stays alive with 3-1 win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins end up playing catch-up for most of Game 5 and fall 3-1 after a great 30 save performance by Capitals goalie Braden Holtby

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into Game 5 up 3 games to 1, the Pittsburgh Penguins got the best from the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin scored a power play goal just 4:04 into the first period to set the tone for the game. The Pens were able to answer with their first PP goal of the series, scored by Chris Kunitz on the door-step to make it 1-1. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, though they out-shot the Caps 12-4 in the first period, the game went into the first intermission tied.

Being tied after 20 minutes while playing a solid team fighting for their playoff lives at home, isn't the worst position to be in. However, the second period would be a bad turn for the Pens. T.J. Oshie would score, again 4 minutes into the period, and again on the power play to put the Caps up 2-1. Then Brian Dumoulin made just a terrible play and Justin Williams was there to take advantage to make it 3-1.

The Pens did well to keep up the pressure, but it just wasn't their night. Braden Holtby, for maybe the first time this series, showed why he was the league's best goalie in the regular season by stopping 30 of the Pens 31 shots on goal, including this sequence where he stoned Patric Hornqvist from point-blank range and then denied Justin Schultz on a mini-breakaway.

At the end, the Caps held on for a win to send the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Tuesday night.

  • Shots were 31-19 in favor of the Pens, play 1 (or maybe 2) more games like that and you would have to like the odds of getting that 4th win.
  • Patric Hornqvist only played 5 shifts in the second half of the game, including just 2 in the third period and was also bumped from the top power play. Mike Sullivan insisted it wasn't an injury issue but, yeah that's weird considering Hornqvist has been on the of Pens best and most consistent forwards in this series.
  • Nice to finally get a power play goal 5 games into the series.
  • Conversely, the Pens are playing with too much fire on the PK, which has been good but cracked tonight for 2 goals against and was probably the difference in the game. From taking a too many men penalty to some unnecessary stick penalties (a couple of slashes, a hook and a high-sticking) the Pens are going to need more discipline and attention to detail next game.
  • Matt Murray couldn't keep the puck out of the net, but it's tough to blame him. A goal review shows a nice cross-ice pass from Nicklas Backstrom to Ovechkin (PK has to either pressure Backstrom more or get a stick in that passing lane) and the patented unstoppable Ovechkin shot for goal one. The second goal against, Trevor Daley needed to do more to tie up Oshie's stick and the 3rd was a breakdown by Dumoulin. Shouldn't be much a goalie controversy
  • The underlying numbers show that Sidney Crosby played a strong game, but nothing on the scoresheet at even strength. Soon, let's hope.
  • Kris Letang seemed "just OK' in his first game back, but that's probably more to the high standards he's got to deliver to. 30:11 played, 8 total shot attempts (though only 2 were on goal) and 3 hits for Letang, who hadn't played in 5 days due to his suspension and probably was slightly out of rhythm. But, again when he can contribute all that and you still know he's capable of more it goes to show just how great of a player he is.
  • By the same token, it will be interesting to see how Brooks Orpik will be in Game 6 after serving his three game suspension. In Games 1&2 the Pens scored 5 goals and Orpik was on ice for 4 of them. If he's a little rusty playing the puck that could be something to target and watch for early on.
  • Would agree with Josh Yohe and the other like-minded analysis that tonight's game was more about the Caps. They weren't just going to go down without a fight, and a goalie like Holtby was going to make his presence felt sooner or later. The Pens can't give so many PP opportunities to Backstrom and Ovechkin before they get burned. That in a nutshell was Game 5.

Onward to Game 6 with an opportunity to win a home game and advance.