While the Capitals’ 3-1 win on Saturday night was nice, the team is far from safe. They must win two straight games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in almost 18 years.
The Caps came out soaring, adding a quick Alex Ovechkin power play goal to get the ball rolling. After going just 1-for-12 on the man advantage in the first four games, the Caps’ special teams unit finally broke the ice.
Throughout the year, the Caps have been sporting “Stick to the Script” hats that represent the team’s strategy for beating their opponents. While many believed that the team needed to make some changes after the heartbreaking 3-2 loss in overtime in Pittsburgh, head coach Barry Trotz and his players continued to preach that if the team kept sticking to their game plan, they would find a way to win. And after playing arguably, their best game of the series, the Caps’ philosophy is now their best bet to winning another game.
After seeing little offense from the line combinations used in the first four games, Trotz shuffled up his lines for Game 5; a move that proved to work wonders for the stagnant Washington offense. Justin Williams, who had recorded just two assists in the entire postseason (and a goal and assist in the first four games of the series), scored a crucial goal, while Ovechkin (who had been quiet for the first two games of the series with just an assist in the first two games) added his goal and an assist and six shots on net. The entire team showed signs of life, getting excellent scoring opportunities and shooting the puck with authority.
If the Caps want to win tomorrow night IN Pittsburgh, they need to “Stick to the Script” in order to secure a victory. With young netminder Matt Murray set to start again for Pittsburgh, they’ll need to get pressure on him early and often, and put traffic in front of the net in order to beat the Pens’ talented young puckstopper.
By Michael Fleetwood