Washington: Alex Ovechkin answered his critics as the Washington Capitals scored two third period goals just 27 seconds apart to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 in game five of their NHL play-off series on Saturday.
Ovechkin and fellow Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov scored back to back to cap a three goal third period rally and cut the Penguins lead in the Eastern Conference second round series to 3-2.
“I knew we were going to come through sooner or later,” said Capitals’ goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 20 saves. “We are sick of talk and we want to prove we can get it done. We have got to take that mindset into game six.”
The Penguins will try again to close out the series when it shifts back to Pittsburgh for game six on Monday night.
Andre Burakovsky and Sweden’s Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals, who had been outscored in the series despite peppering Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with more shots.
Fleury stopped 28 shots on Saturday for Pittsburgh who got goals from Carl Hagelin, of Sweden, and American Phil Kessel.
The game marked the return of Penguin superstar Sidney Crosby who suffered the fourth concussion of his career when he was crosschecked in the head by Washington defenceman Matt Niskanen.
Crosby took a regular shift, played on special teams and finished with one assist.
Questions also surrounded Ovechkin heading into game five as the Russian dynamo struggled in game four and was looking at reduced ice time if he was unable to turn his fortunes around.
Ovechkin responded with a superb individual effort to score the Capitals’ fourth goal at 7:47 of the third to round out the scoring. He goal came just 27 seconds after Kuznetsov scored to make it 3-2 and give the Capitals their first lead of the contest.
Ovechkin cut across the top of the left faceoff circle and his initial shot was blocked by Ron Hainsey. Ovechkin collected the loose puck and then beat Canada’s Fleury high to the glove side.
Ovechkin now has two goals and five points in the series. The Penguins pulled their goalie for the extra attacker with over two minutes remaining in the third but were unable to get even one past Holtby.
Elsewhere, Kyle Turris scored at 6:28 of overtime to give the Ottawa Senators a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over New York Rangers and a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference second round series.