In a battle of special teams, the Washington Capitals needed their best player to have a special performance.
Despite often being dangerous, with a combined 14 shots on goal in Games 3 and 4 for Washington, Alex Ovechkin had been held to one goal in this series with the Pittsburgh Penguins before Saturday’s tilt. His team, meanwhile, had fallen behind 3-1 in this second-round series after a Presidents’ Trophy regular season.
Lose, and the criticism toward the 30-year-old Ovechkin, the dominant scorer of his generation, would be automatic.
With his team facing elimination, Ovechkin delivered with a productive night.
He opened the scoring on a power play early in the first period, blasting one of those classic Ovechkin one-timer slap shots from his off wing. He added an assist on what would be the winning goal off the stick of T.J. Oshie during a second-period power play, and fired a team-high six shots on goal.
The Capitals came away with a 3-1 win in Game 5. They still trail the Penguins 3-2 in the series, as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Tuesday.
Braden Holtby made 30 saves for the win.
The Capitals struck twice on five power play opportunities. Pittsburgh had only two power play opportunities, capitalizing on its first of the night on a goal from Chris Kunitz.