Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
It wasn’t without some doubt, but the Capitals defeated the Penguins in Game 5 on Saturday 4-2, forcing a Game 6 in Pittsburgh on Monday night.
For much of the game it looked like a lot of the same. The Capitals controlling the shot counter and possession stats, but the Penguins winning where it mattered. It was 2-1 going into the third period when the Capitals finally woke up and took control of the game.
Lets look at some of the stats.
As noted earlier, most of this game was the same as the rest of the series, Caps dominating in shot attempts yet still trailing on the scoreboard. After two periods Washington was ahead 40-21 in shot attempts.
The third period was pretty even until the very end where Pittsburgh was pushing to get two late goals. The game finished 66-52 in total shot attempts and 51-42 while 5v5 with Washington ahead in both.
Scoring Chances while 5v5 finished 36-24 in the Caps favor. The third period was a big one for both teams finishing 17-14 also in the Capitals corner.
Just four Capitals players finished under 50% in shot attempts percentage, Ovechkin at 48%, Niskanen at 41%, Beagle at 40%, and Orlov at 33%.
Nate Schmidt finished the game +15 in shot attempts, having 23 attempts for and 8 against, that’s good for 74%.
Shattenkirk was also strong in this stat finishing +12, 21 attempts for and 9 against. That put him at 70%.
Ian Cole and Justin Schultz of the Penguins had a rough night in the Corsi department. After the second period, Cole was at 7% and Schultz was 8%. They finished at 40% and 30% respectively.
For most of the game the Capitals did not have nearly enough battle in them. After the first two periods, the Capitals were 10-30 at the dot.
They still lost the battle in the third period, but by a much smaller margin winning 12-26 which equals 46%.
The Capitals top two centers Backstrom and Kuznetsov were 12-34.
Eller was the best Caps center tonight at 50%, Beagle was 2-6 or 33%.
The only Penguin who finished below 50% at the faceoff dot was Matt Cullen who was 2-7 or 29%.
As for Holtby, he’s been average during these playoffs and for two periods on Saturday it was a lot of the same. But, in the third period, he was outstanding. Scoring Chances in the third period might have been in Washington’s favor, but I think the Penguins had more grade A scoring chances and Holtby stopped all of them. In my mind, I had about 8 really good chances Holtby stopped.
Watching ice times has been interesting this series. Two Capitals forwards went over the 20 minute mark: Oshie at 20:22 and Johansson at 20:50. Karl Alzner (possibly still hurt) played just 9:35, which was the lowest on the entire Capitals team. Kunitz played just 9:25 for the low total for the entire game.
The biggest question to take out of that game I think is obvious. Can the Capitals play the way they did in the third period in Game 5 for sixty minutes?
They played great for stretches this series and didn’t get much (if any) puck luck. They got that luck in Game 5. You can’t rely on luck though. They still need to play a dirtier game. Get more bodies to the front of the net and pound some goals in rather than toe drag goals like Burakovsky’s in the first period.
Maybe Game 5 showed the Capitals how they have to play to win this series. It’s going to take 120 minutes of hard work and some more luck.
By CJ Witt