The Capitals looked the Devil in the eye Saturday night, took a long drag of a fiery cigarette, and muttered, “Not yet.”
Here's Saturday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: THIS SEASON AIN’T OVER YET, BABY!
Minus: The Caps took about forty minutes to find any sense of urgency in the playoffs. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Facing elimination and with their backs against the wall, Washington needed to get this epic comeback started. They’d have their chance in Game 5 at Verizon Center.
2. Intricately linked to the first issue is the second: would Braden Holtby bounce back when the Caps needed him to, especially after a sub-par series and giving up a noticeably soft goal from the point in Game 4?
3. Halfway through the first period, Dmitry Orlov got caught drifting and daydreaming of rosier Russian-American relations, and Carl Hagelin snuck in unassailed and ripped a BB past Braden Holtby to give the Pens a 1-0 lead early. Uh-oh.
4. The Caps got two power play opportunities in the first period, but did about as much with them as those foul-mouth punks online would actually do with your mother. Five shots, no goals, no joy.
5. With the final seconds of the first period winding down, and the Capitals facing the prospect of entering the locker room already chasing the game from behind, Andre “Natural Beauty” Burakovsky roared down the wing with the puck. At the top of the circle, he activated Imitation Is Flattery Protocol #4, and hit the patented Ovechkin curl-and-drag move better than even the Captain himself can any more. Now right in front of the net and with space to shoot, Bura ripped a heat-seeking missile past Fleury and into the back of the net to tie the game 1-1 after one.
6. Early in the second period, Nate Schmidt did a bad, bad thing and got himself sent to time-out for two minutes for holding. That was all the Penguins needed, as talented round man Phil Kessel capped off an admittedly gorgeous Pittsburgh passing sequence, popping home a one-timer at the far post to make it 2-1 Penguins. That score would hold until the final intermission, and meant the Capitals had just 20 minutes to save their season or meet their makers.
7. People kept jokingly saying, “Hey, if Anaheim can score three goals in three minutes to come back vs. Edmonton, why can’t we?” Well, they just about did. Quick Stick Slick Nick Backstrom eliminated the deficit with a five-hole ripper just three minutes into the period. A lovely primary assist from Burakovsky set up the Swedish Sensation, who beat Fleury low where doctors say to turn and cough.
8. Four and a half minutes later, Evgeny Kuznetsov followed a bouncing puck all the way to the goal line, and from an angle sharper than Wisconsin cheddar ripped home a knife blade that pierced Fleury and gave the Caps a 3-2 lead.
9. THEN, just forty seconds later, Alex Ovechkin showed bulldog-like tenacity sticking with a rolling puck, finally settling it and lifting it over a sprawling Fleury to create a veritable Russian botnet of quick-hit goals and a 4-2 Capitals lead.
10. Fleury vacated the net like a deposed tyrant, while Holtby posted a more robust .909 SV%, and the score held until the final buzzer, 4-2 Caps.
This series is going back to Pittsburgh for a Game 6. Can you feel it? Are you all-in?