Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
The Capitals will head to Pittsburgh up 3-2 in their second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins after a huge Game 5 comeback victory on Saturday night at Capital One Arena. While the win itself is a big one for the Caps, as they look to end the series on Monday night and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 20 years, it is also a statement that the Capitals are not a team that gives up.
After two straight early playoff exits at the hands of the Penguins over the last two seasons, this year’s Capitals team came into the 2017-18 season with a point to prove. Having lost numerous key players to various avenues over the offseason, many predicted the team to decline in overall performance. The Capitals however. finished first in the Metropolitan Division for the third consecutive season and heading into the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, were arguably considered underdogs for the first time in the Barry Trotz era.
The Capitals did win four straight games against the Columbus Blue Jackets to advance to the second round to meet the Pens for the third consecutive spring, but this series has so much more at stake. And after a gutsy Game 3 victory in Pittsburgh, the Capitals scored four unanswered goals in the third period to take a 3-2 series lead in Game 5. The Capitals’ win not only gives a team that has defied all expectations throughout the season the chance to advance to the third round of the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, but it is also a clear, unequivocal statement to their fans and the Penguins that this Capitals team does not give up without a fight. And if they are to win on Monday night, they will need every ounce of resilience they can get.
By Michael Fleetwood