Preview: Capitals at Hurricanes
The Washington Capitals answered consecutive defeats at PNC Arena with a resounding victory at home to once again wrest away control of their Eastern Conference first-round series. The Capitals return to Raleigh (N.C.) aiming to eliminate the upstart Carolina Hurricanes on Monday when the Metropolitan Division rivals play Game 6 of their series.
"Obviously, I thought that was a pretty great response (after losing Games 3 and 4). We weren't satisfied with the games in Carolina," forward Nicklas Backstrom said after his four-point performance (two goals, two assists) powered Washington to a 6-0 romp in Game 5 on Saturday. The 31-year-old Swede matched last season's entire playoff goal total with five in this series and has nine in his last 10 games overall. While Backstrom and the Capitals might be inclined to reflect fondly on Saturday's game, the same isn't true for a Carolina club that has zero margin for error in its first playoff series since 2009. "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 6."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, TVAS, FS Carolinas, NBCS Washington
ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Although captain Alex Ovechkin collected one goal and two assists in Game 5, he also made an impact on Saturday's game by stepping up his physical play with a season-high 11 hits. Devante Smith-Pelly, who is known for his physicality, finished with a plus-1 rating and one shot on goal in 10:43 of ice time during his first game since being recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League. "Everyone did good job on the forecheck, making their (defensemen) turn and making it hard for them to get out on breakouts, so got to keep doing that if we're going to be successful," the 26-year-old Smith-Pelly said.
ABOUT THE HURRICANES: Rookie Andrei Svechnikov hopes to draw back in the lineup after sitting out the last two contests following his ill-fated fight with Ovechkin in the first period of Game 3. "I always recover so quickly, and we'll see. I hope I'm going to play next game," said the 19-year-old Russian, who may get his wish after Carolina assigned fellow forward Aleksi Saarella to Charlotte of the American Hockey League on Sunday morning. The Hurricanes' power play could benefit from some conditioning, as it went 0-for-5 in Game 5 and showed so little in terms of potential that Jordan Staal labeled it "garbage" while Williams told reporters that the team "stunk it up" with the man advantage.
1. Carolina G Petr Mrazek looks to rebound from a diastrous six-goal performance when he returns to Raleigh, where he has turned aside 48 of 49 shots in the series.
2. Washington RW T.J. Oshie is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his broken collarbone, the team announced Sunday.
3. Hurricanes D Jaccob Slavin recorded five assists in his previous three contests before the team was shut out in Game 5.
PREDICTION: Capitals 4, Hurricanes 1