The Pittsburgh Penguins appeared on their way to eliminating the Washington Capitals and reaching the Eastern Conference final on Tuesday night.
Then the high-scoring Capitals struck back, thanks in part to one of hockey’s most controversial rules.
After falling behind 3-0, Capitals defenseman John Carlson scored 13:01 into the third period on a 5-on-3 power play to tie the game and send it to overtime.
In her 100 years, Gert Friedman had never attended a hockey game live. So the Washington Capitals and NHL gave Friedman the best gift she could ask for Saturday night, inviting the soon-to-be 101-year-old to Game 5 between the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
And while the tickets to the game may have been enough for Friedman, the league and the Capitals stepped it up beyond simply getting her into Verizon Centre for the second-round playoff game. During the first intermission, Friedman was brought out onto the ice in the passenger seat of the ice resurfacer where she rode along for the duration of the ice cleaning, waving to fans in attendance: Read more
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had to have his best game of the season Saturday night with Washington facing elimination in Game 5 of their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he answered that challenge with an outstanding 30-save performance. But in a game where Holtby earned himself first-star honors, it was two second-period saves that stood out most.
The first jaw-dropping stop came with less than four minutes remaining in the second frame. With the Penguins pressuring and attempting to pull back within one, the Capitals turned the puck over behind their net. Penguins center Matt Cullen was there to pick it up and swept out in front of the net before laying a pass across to Patric Hornqvist.
Cullen’s pass landed right on Hornqvist’s tape, and the veteran winger had an open look. But instead of finding the back of the net, Hornqvist was met with Holtby’s right pad as the Capitals netminder shot across his crease to turn aside the attempt:
For Washington to stay alive in their second-round series against Pittsburgh, the Capitals’ stars would need to be their stars in Game 5. Alex Ovechkin absolutely got that message.
Ovechkin had been fairly quiet production-wise through the first four games of the series, racking up just one goal and three points, but it was evident early on that the Capitals’ captain was going to be making a difference in some way Saturday night. Only four minutes into the contest, with Washington on the power play, Ovechkin set up shop, loaded up and blasted home his second goal of the series to give the Capitals an early 1-0 lead. That was just the beginning of his night, though.
After his goal, he added an assist but it was about more than what he did that showed up on the scoreboard. He was a force to be reckoned with in Game 5. Ovechkin finished with almost 20 minutes of ice time, six shots on goal, nine shot attempts, three hits, two takeaways and a blocked shot. It’s a phrase repeated often, but Ovechkin seemed to be literally all over the ice throughout the game. That’s exactly what the Capitals needed, and of course it was Ovechkin who delivered. Read more
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn and Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby have been selected by their peers as finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, which recognizes the league’s most outstanding player as voted by the members of the NHLPA, the players.
The three finalists make it a certainty that this season will see a first-time winner, though there’s no clearcut favorite for the award. For both Kane and Holtby, this is their first nomination for the award, while Benn receives his second nod as a finalist. Benn was a finalist in 2014-15 for leading the league in scoring, but he was one of the runners up to Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
None of the finalists are necessarily surprising, but Kane’s nod as one of the top-three vote-getters was almost a given. Kane, 27, led the NHL in scoring by 17 points, finished second in goal scoring behind Alex Ovechkin with 46 markers and Kane’s 60 assists put him in third place behind Erik Karlsson and Joe Thornton. In many ways, his season was a continuation of the previous campaign, where he was at or near the top of the league’s scoring leaders before he fell injured in late February. Read more
As the second round of the playoffs rolls on, the Capitals, Islanders, Stars, and Predators are all trailing their series heading into Thursday’s action.
A one or two game deficit in the NHL is nothing to get too worried about. There have been many memorable comebacks from even 3-0 leads in recent years.
So don’t count any team out just yet. These are the three teams with the best chance of making a comeback in their series:
NEW YORK ISLANDERS, down to 2-1 to Lightning
Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Matt Murray came into Game 4 of the second-round matchup against the Washington Capitals riding an incredible hot streak. Over the past two games, Murray, 21, had posted a 1.50 goals-against average and .959 SP, and he looked near unbeatable in Game 3, stopping 47 of 49 shots.
In order to beat Murray in Game 4, the Capitals would have to be perfect. They would have to get Murray moving side-to-side, scrambling out of position, down-and-out — or maybe all they needed was a rolling puck and a bit of luck. That’s exactly how Washington center Jay Beagle found the back of the net early in Wednesday’s game.
Less than three minutes into Game 4, Capitals winger Tom Wilson carried the puck through the neutral zone before crossing center and flipping the puck into the left wing corner. Beagle, charging hard, got to the puck ahead of Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy. With the puck only about a foot from the goal line, Beagle took a backhanded swipe at the puck and somehow found space over Murray’s shoulder: Read more
Thanks to Patric Hornqvist, the Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from downing the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and advancing to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.
The teams traded goals through two frames with Jay Beagle and John Carlson finding the net for Washington and Trevor Daley and Matt Cullen responding for Pittsburgh, and played a back-and-forth scoreless third period that set up overtime for the second time in the series. And in overtime, it was Hornqvist who was gifted an incredible opportunity when Capitals defenseman Mike Weber, who was in the lineup in place of a healthy-scratched Nate Schmidt, made a nearly unthinkable error and poked a puck right into the Penguins winger’s wheelhouse.
Hornqvist made no mistake, firing the puck past Capitals netminder Braden Holtby for the win. Just like that, the Penguins skated away with a 3-2 victory in Game 4 and a 3-1 lead in the second-round series. Read more