Can Caps clinch on the Road? Game 6
With a 3-2 series lead, the Washington Capitals will look to win their first series in Carolina tonight against the Hurricanes who will be looking to continue the home-ice advantage as neither team has won on the road. On their way to a Cup championship last year the Caps closed out all four series while donning the road whites.
A 6-0 drubbing on the scoreboard and a physically dominating performance has given the Caps plenty of confidence heading into tonight’s Game 6. Coach Todd Reirden inserted Jonas Seigenthaler last game in order to have all his defenceman playing on their strong side. The rookie playing in his first playoff game did well teamed up with veteran John Carlson as the defense looked much more competent in exiting their zone.
Another addition to the Caps lineup last game was Devante Smith-Pelly. With TJ Oshie out with a broken collarbone, the Caps depth will be tested. The gritty winger was a crowd favorite in game 5 as he brought some much-needed energy and physicality to the 4th line and looked good after being recalled from AHL Hershey before the game.
Nicklas Backstrom is having a great start to the playoffs. The slick Swede known for his precision passing has used his underrated shot to score 5 goals already placing him in a tie for 2nd in league scoring during the postseason behind Vegas Mark Stone with 6. His 8 points are good enough for 5th of all scorers.
Braden Holtby recorded his 7th shutout in the playoffs over his career in Game 5’s win stopping 30 shots. He moved ahead of Olaf Kolzig (6)for the Capitals all-time playoff shutout totals.
They’ll need Holtby to be at his best in Carolina where the Hurricanes have outscored Washington 7-1 in games 3 and 4. While Holtby can’t be blamed for the losses he’ll need to keep up his stellar play as the Hurricanes will be looking to crash the crease and get as many shots on goal as they can.
The Capitals will need to keep up their forecheck as they continually pounded the Hurricanes registering 48 hits. On Brett Connolly’s goal, Alex Ovechkin was heading fast on the forecheck on Canes d-man Dougie Hamilton and Hamilton decided to ease up and not take the hit from a charging Ovechkin. When he did, Ovi just took the puck and centered a pass to a streaking Connolly who buried it. This constant hard forecheck is obviously wearing down the defense of Carolina. The Caps also had 17 takeaways last game compared to Carolina’s 5.
Washington’s PP which had gone cold since the game 1 provided three goals in Game 5 as the Caps seem to be able to enter the zone easier. They aren’t dumping and chasing as much. Watch for Kuznetsov or Backstrom to continue this strategy. Carolina’s PP went 0-5 against the improving Caps PK, however, the Caps would best to just avoid bad penalties altogether.
The lineup for Washington remains unchanged.
Game time tonight is 7:00PM EST from PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Nicklas Backstrom is the 5th player in Capitals history with 2-goal, 2-assist game in the playoffs and first since Jaromir Jagr in 2003 against the Lightning
In case you were wondering…
Nic Dowd’s penalty shot goal in Game 5 was the first successful goal by any Capitals player in franchise history during the playoffs.
Tom Wilson became the 26th player in Capitals history to achieve the double-digit goal mark in the playoffs for their career.