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Game 5 Recap: Slick Nick Sinks Jackets in OT, Lifts Washington to 4-3 Win

The Washington Capitals defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime on Saturday afternoon, taking a 3-2 series lead behind an overtime goal from Nicklas Backstrom.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Washington Capitals - Game Five Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Capitals returned from their two-game stand in Columbus with the series re-knotted at 2-2. Who would jump out to the lead back in Washington on Saturday afternoon?

Here’s Saturday’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: The Washington Capitals are now just one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Minus: The Capitals got outshot 16-1 in the third period in a tied playoff game. Yikes, clean that one up, boys.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

1. After falling to the Blue Jackets 2-0 at home, Alex Ovechkin promised the media, himself, and his teammates that this series would return to Washington tied 2-2, and the Capitals did just that. With home ice advantage back in Washington’s hands and their playoff future carved down to a crystal-clear best-of-three series, could they come out on Saturday afternoon and force the Blue Jackets to the brink?

2. Conspicuously absent from the Washington lineup and your daily fan-fiction was Andre Burakovsky, the skilled Swedish winger who missed both games in Columbus with an upper-body injury. Coach Barry Trotz informed the media yesterday that The Burracuda would miss the rest of this series after undergoing “minor surgery.” Would stand-in rookie forwards Chandler Stephenson and Jakub Vrana be able to shoulder the smolderingly handsome load?

3. Columbus struck first in this game, cashing in on a Washington power play. Yes, you read that right. Shorthanded on the penalty kill, Columbus defenseman Seth Jones pinched Alex Ovechkin into a turnover along the blue line. Matt Calvert gathered the puck heading the other direction on a 2-on-1 and beat Braden Holtby with a shot that trickled through, giving the Blue Jackets their first first-strike of the series and a 1-0 lead.

4. But with 6:30 remaining in the opening frame, Slick Nick With the Quick Stick, Nicklas Backstrom, threw what was surely a pass across the crease. The puck struck David Savard’s skate fortuitously, bounced into the air, and rolled down goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s back and into the money-making part of the net to tie the game 1-1 at the first intermission.

5. Penalties plagued the first frame like locusts. Columbus was nicked for two minors and Washington for three of their own. With the Blue Jackets’ power play threatening to strike like a gimmicky in-arena cannon, Washington would need to tamp down the discipline after twenty.

6. The Capitals got off to a better start in the second period. After a critical Columbus mistake at center ice, Evgeny Kuznetsov led Washington on a 3-on-1 the other way. Kuzy called his own number, ripping a snipe past Sergei Bobrovsky and into the net to make it 2-1 Caps three minutes into the frame.

7. But just minutes later, Good American Boy T.J. Oshie got caught flat-footed at center ice, and the Blue Jackets’ Matt Calvert got past him and loose, taking the breakaway all the way to the net, and despite losing the puck for a moment, managed to turn and push it past Holtby and in to tie it once again 2-2.

8. But Oshie and the Capitals weren’t about to let that be the last word on the second period. On a power play, Real American Hero and Future Owner of the Contents of a Brinks Truck John Carlson fired a slap shot from the point. Oshbae tipped it just enough to change its trajectory, and got the Caps in the goal column for the third time, 3-2.

I asked John Carlson about Washington’s apparent strategy to beat Vezina-winner Bobrovsky with redirections and deflections. He said, “When there’s people there, it’s never a bad play to shoot it.”

I asked Carlson if that was especially important against a goalie like Bobrovsky, specifically. He said, “Yeah, yeah. He’s going to stop everything he sees. We talk about that all year, making it as hard as possible. It seems like we’ve been picking up on that idea. Beags did it, Tom’s done it, that’s the type of stuff we need to do.”

9. The Blue Jackets stuck their flag into the third period first. With Ovechkin and Kuznetsov’s line woefully unable to clear the zone at even strength, a limp poke from Kuzy trickled out to Columbus’ Ian Cole at the point. Cole fired a shot that Oliver Bjorkstrand deflected past Holtby, knotting this one up for the third time at 3-3 just two minutes into the frame.

The rest of the third period was all Columbus, with the Jackets dominating the Caps in shots 16-1 in the final twenty.

Asked about the one-sided final frame, Evgeny Kuznetsov said, “You have to expect the push from them...I feel like we stopped playing. We have to watch the tape and we have to fix that because it’s not the first game where we give up so many good looks in the third period. We have to play better. We have to maybe, you know, if something goes wrong, take a timeout and get together and talk a little more. That’s very important for us. It’s not about Columbus, it’s not about coaches, it’s about us players to fix that. And we will, for sure.”

But Washington managed to fight and scratch and claw to survive and force.....OVERTIME!



Nick Backstrom described his OTGWG by saying, “It was just a good shot from Orly. I got a tip on it. That’s usually what happens in the playoffs. Tipped goals, rebound goals, that’s the way it is. But, it’s nice.”

Kuznetsov described the feeling of winning Game 5 in overtime, the fourth overtime game of the series, thusly: “When it goes overtime, I know it sucks sit on the bench, it’s nervous, but at same time, that’s best part in our life. That’s why we play. And at the same time, when you lose in overtime, it feels so bad. But when you win, you can’t imagine how that feel great. Especially if you’re on the ice.”

Asked what the Capitals need to do to finish the Blue Jackets off as the series returns to Columbus, Backstrom said, “We have to be a little better with the puck, especially on breakouts...Play a little quicker, a little more focused with the passing.” See? Nicky knows.

The Washington Capitals are now just one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Game 6 is Monday in Columbus.

Game highlights: