Pens’ 3-peat chase in danger
Caps score late for series lead
Jakub Vrana scored the go-ahead goal with 4:38 remaining, Braden Holtby made 35 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 in Game 5 Saturday night to take a 3-2 lead in the second-round series and put the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champions on the brink of elimination.
Vrana made coach Barry Trotz look like a genius for moving him to the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, replacing Devante Smith-Pelly in the second period. Vrana sprung Kuznetsov for a breakaway on Washington’s tying goal 52 seconds into the third and finished off Ovechkin’s pass for the game-winner.
The Capitals are one victory from advancing to the Eastern Conference final for the first time in the Ovechkin era and overall since 1998, when they reached the Stanley Cup Final. They can move on to face the winner of the Tampa Bay-Boston series if they win Game 6 Monday in Pittsburgh.
They’re up on the Penguins on the strength of Ovechkin’s offense and the goaltending of Holtby, who kept them in the game for long stretches when the Penguins were pressing. Holtby was at his best when the Capitals were outshot 18-5 in the second period.
The Capitals took a 3-2 series lead on the Penguins for the first time in four playoff series dating to 2009.