No Late Thunder – A trademark of the Capitals in this series has been the team’s ability to score goals in bunches, and to do so late in games. The Caps didn’t score in bunches in Friday’s Game 5 at Verizon Center, and they didn’t score late. The result was a 2-1 loss to the Habs, sending the series back to Montreal for Game 6 on Monday night at Bell Centre.
Washington fell into an early 2-0 hole, giving up the game’s first goal to Michael Cammalleri at 1:30 of the first and surrendering another to Travis Moen at 7:01. The Capitals’ top trio of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble had been dominant in the last three games of the series – all Washington wins – but that threesome was on the ice for two Montreal goals in its first four shifts of the game.
“They came out and had a good start,” says Caps center Brendan Morrison. “They got the two quick goals on us. Even though we had 15 shots, we had way too many breakdowns in the first period. We knew they were going to come out. Their backs were against the wall and they outplayed us in the first 20 minutes. We made way too many glaring mistakes.
The Caps also failed to capitalize on some prime scoring chances in the first. Washington was dominant down low in offensive the first period Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak was all but impenetrable, making 37 saves on the night.
Halak started this series strong, stopping 54 of the first 57 shots he faced. But then he allowed eight goals on the next 40 shots, surrendering the net to Carey Price for a period that included a Game 4 start for Price. Montreal coach Jacques Martin said Friday morning that he went back to Halak for Friday’s Game 5 because Halak had won several “must win” games for the team down the stretch during the Canadiens’ drive for a playoff berth.
Tonight, the Habs goalie stopped 37 of 38 shots. He outplayed his Washington counterpart and stole Game 5 for his club.
“I think that he started the series,” says Habs coach Jacques Martin of Halak, “and even when I pulled him, it wasn’t because he wasn’t playing well, I think that I pulled him, trying to change the momentum in Game 3.
“It seemed like Washington had some scoring going and I felt very comfortable and very confident going with Carey for Game 4. I felt that Carey gave us a strong game as well. Tonight coming back here, I felt that Jaroslav would bounce back with a strong performance.”
Caps goaltender Semyon Varlamov played well in a losing effort, allowing two or fewer goals for the seventh time in his 17 career playoff games. He doesn’t believe that momentum will matter in the remainder of the series, just goaltending.
“I don’t think it matters in this series,” says Varlamov. “What will matter in the series in the future is the goaltending play. As you saw today, Halak had 37 saves. We created a lot of chances, we just couldn’t score against him.”
Powerless – Washington’s power play – the league’s best extra-man unit by far during the regular season – is now 1-for-24 in this series. A timely power play goal here or there, and this series might already be history. The Caps have outscored the Habs by 17-10 at even strength in the first five games, but Washington has inexplicably scored fewer power play goals (one) than it has shorthanded goals (two) in this series.
Killed – Washington was a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, marking the first time the Caps have not surrendered a power play goal in this series and the first time in the team’s last 11 postseason games that the opposition has not tallied a power play strike.
Lopsided Bench – Ovechkin logged 10:12 of his total of 24:47 in the game’s third period.
Tomas Fleischmann skated two shifts totaling 1:25 in the third. His total ice of 7:26 was his lowest in more than two years, since he skated 6:50 in the final game of the 2007-08 regular season on April 5, 2008.
Half of Washington’s 18 skaters played 13:38 or less on the night.
Not Intimidated – Including the playoffs and regular season, the Caps have lost 13 games, including overtime and shootout setbacks. Montreal has won three of those games, going 3-2 in its five visits to Verizon Center this season.
Too Many Too Many – Each team was whistled for a “too many men on the ice” violation tonight. There have now been a total of 18 such penalties whistled thus far in the playoffs this spring, more than occurred in the entire 2009 postseason.
Four Score – Ovechkin potted the Caps’ lone goal on the night, marking the fourth straight game in which he has scored a goal. He now has 16 postseason goals in his last 16 playoff games.
In just 26 career playoff games, Ovechkin already ranks fourth in franchise history with 20 career playoff goals. He is one shy of Dino Ciccarelli (21 goals in 32 games) for third place on that list.
Peter Bondra (30 goals in 73 games) and Dale Hunter (25 goals in 100 games) head up the list.
Bottom Of The Fifth – Washington dropped to 8-19 all-time in Game 5. The Caps missed a chance to win a series in five games for the first time since disposing of the Ottawa Senators in five games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
The Capitals are an anemic 2-7 in Game 5s when leading the series 3-1.
Happy Birthday – To former Caps captain Ryan Walter, born on this day in 1958. And to Hockey Hall of Famer Tony Esposito, born on this day in 1943.
By The Numbers – The Capitals took 14 of the 23 (61%) first-period face-offs in Game 5 … Semin teed up seven shots in the first period alone, getting four of them on goal … Hal Gill led the Habs with five blocked shots … Mike Green led the Caps with five hits … John Carlson skated a single-game career high of 22:46 on the night …
1 - 0 MTL
2 - 0 MTL