Last night, the Caps gave themselves a chance at forcing a game seven by beating the Pens 4-2. In a lot of ways, Saturday’s game was the performance we’ve all been waiting for. All four Caps goals were scored at even-strength, and the names beside those tallies were Andre Burakovsky (finally), Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov followed immediately by Alex Ovechkin. We aren’t sure if Ovi’s goal from the “third line” counts as a getting depth scoring, but regardless, if those four guys continue to be dangerous then the Caps still have a shot in this series.
Overall, the possession dominance continued, although not quite to the degree as in Game One through Game Four. The Caps bested the Pens 51 to 42 and finally, that translated to the scoresheet. As has been the story so far in this series, high-danger shot attempts were much closer (eight to seven in favor of the Pens), although the Caps still held a healthy plus-nine margin in scoring chances.
WSH-PIT G5. Story feels totally different when pucks go in and saves are made. Lineup changes with decent returns (esp Shattenkirk-Schmidt) pic.twitter.com/DHCqvJXDez
— Muneeb Alam (@muneebalamcu) May 7, 2017
We tend to think Nate Schmidt is the driver of a lot of good things that happen when he is on the ice, but he gets a lot of love from us already so let’s shine the light on Kevin Shattenkirk. He had a monster night, with two-goals for and none against, an assist on the opening goal, and he was plus-12 in shot attempts when on the ice. All of that was in big minutes. The pairing of Brooks Orpik and John Carlson didn’t end up looking great but didn’t get caved in either, so this configuration might not be bad to stick with going forward.
There has been a lot of faith lost in possession statistics over these last few games, but an interesting note from the ice time last night (which really becomes the topic of the playoffs) is that players who negatively influenced the Caps’ possession generally spent their time playing second fiddle. In the first of (hopefully) three do-or-die situations, the players who got under 10 minutes of ice time at five-on-five were Jay Beagle, Daniel Winnik, Karl Alzner, and Brooks Orpik. These are all players who have at times been noted to let the ice tilt in the wrong direction, and at this crucial time, it’s good to see the team placing their trust in the right places.
Stats courtesy of Corsica.Hockey and NaturalStatTrick.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images.