By Mark Gallagher
Nicklas Backstrom had four points, and Braden Holtby made 30 saves for the Capitals in a 6-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Washington leads the best-of-7 series 3-2. Game 6 is at Carolina on Monday.
Backstrom had two goals and two assists, and Alex Ovechkin had a goal and two assists for Washington. Holtby’s shutout was his seventh in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, passing Olie Kolzig for most in Capitals history.
“Obviously, I thought that was a pretty great response (after losing Games 3 and 4),” Backstrom said. “We weren’t satisfied with the games in Carolina. Tonight, we played some Caps hockey, I thought. Everyone bought in to everything, we worked together, and it paid off.”
Petr Mrazek made 22 saves for Carolina.
The Capitals went 3-for-4 on the power play while the Hurricanes went 0-for-5.
“We were bad from start to finish really,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It’s tough to pick out a guy I thought had a good game. This time of year, you need everyone on board and for some reason, we were all just a step behind. The score’s indicative of the game.”
Backstrom gave Washington a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 7:33 of the first period. Mrazek made the save on his initial shot, but he got his own rebound and scored five-hole at the left post.
The team that has scored first has won each game in the series.
“We just want to set the tone right away, put the puck deep, hit their [defensemen] and leave the mark,” Ovechkin said.
Carolina had three consecutive power plays in the second period but only got four shots on goal.
“Obviously, power play wasn’t good enough tonight and that’s kind of what hurt us in the second,” Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “We had a lot of chances to even up the game and get the momentum going our way, but we didn’t do that tonight.”
Shortly after the third penalty kill, Backstrom scored his fifth of the playoffs to make it 2-0 at 14:21, taking a cross-ice pass from Ovechkin on a 2-on-1 and scoring high stick side. It was the Capitals’ first 5-on-5 goal since Brooks Orpik’s overtime goal in Game 2.
Brett Connolly extended the lead to 3-0 at 16:11 after receiving a pass in slot from Ovechkin, who beat Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a puck behind the net.
“[Ovechkin’s] obviously a tremendous player and I just try to get open,” Connolly said. “I think his passing is very underrated. Obviously, he’s the best goal-scorer arguably of all time, for sure in modern era. I think his passing gets overlooked.”
Tom Wilson scored a power-play goal off a rebound in the crease to make it 4-0 at 1:04 of the third period, and Nic Dowd increased the lead to 5-0 on a penalty shot at 8:57.
Ovechkin made it 6-0 at 10:14 with a one-timer off a face-off win by Backstrom on the power play.
“Park it. It stunk,” Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said. “There’s ups and downs, a lot of momentum swings in playoff series, and we’ve got to swing it back in our direction in Game
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