NHL·GAME 5

Capitals rebound from pair of losses to storm past Hurricanes

Nicklas Backstrom needed five games to match his goal output from the entire 2018 playoffs, and he and Alex Ovechkin have the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals one victory away from the second round.

Alex Ovechkin notches 3 points in shutout victory for Washington

Washington's Nicklas Backstrom celebrates after scoring a goal against in the second period of the Capitals' 6-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 of their first-round series on Saturday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

So much went right for the Washington Capitals that the chants from the crowd changed by the shift.

Fans chanted for Nicklas Backstrom's four points, Braden Holtby's 30-save shutout, Devante Smith-Pelly's return to the NHL and T.J. Oshie's absence that is arguably the biggest obstacle to Washington going back-to-back.

Oh, and there were those chants, too as the defending Stanley Cup champions blew out the Carolina Hurricanes 6-0 in Game 5 on Saturday night to take a 3-2 series lead and move one victory away from advancing to the second round.

In their first game since Oshie was knocked out indefinitely with an upper-body injury, the Capitals got two goals from Backstrom, power-play goals from Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson and secondary scoring in the form of a goal by Brett Connolly and a successful penalty shot by Nic Dowd to make a statement that they were back after laying an egg in two road losses that evened the series.

WATCH | Caps cruise past Hurricanes to take series lead: 

Nicklas Backstrom scored a pair and Braden Holtby collected his sixth career playoff shutout, as the defending champs topped Carolina 6-0 in Washington. 2:07

"That was a pretty great response," Backstrom said after matching his 2018 playoff total with five goals through five games in this first round. "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."

Ovechkin assisted on Backstrom's second goal and Connolly's first of the playoffs to again lead the way in a post-season win. The reigning playoff MVP has three goals and four assists so far in the series and is hurting the Hurricanes with more than just his patented shot.

Backstrom, who is known more for his passing, had five goals in 20 games during the Capitals' Cup run a year ago that included missing four games with two fractures in his right pointer finger. He and Ovechkin were two of the best players on the ice Saturday with their team in a precarious spot.

"Obviously they got on the point sheet, but their play away from the puck, on the forecheck, supporting each other, they're real tough to play against when they play like that," said Holtby, who set a franchise record with his seventh playoff shutout. "I thought they've been doing a great job all playoffs, too. You can tell that they want to win, and the rest of the team will follow."

There were more leaders than followers in this rout, and that included penalty killers who salted away all five Carolina power plays. Three successful penalty kills in the second period of what was then a one-goal game helped the Capitals blow the game open.

"That was a game-changer for us," said Backstrom, who made it 2-0 just 19 seconds after the final penalty kill in that stretch expired. "Kill `em off and then we got going after that. You need that in games like this."

Mrazek looks on after allowing a second-period goal. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek was hung out to dry in allowing six goals on 28 shots, and their power play came up empty when even a few scoring chances would've built some momentum and couldn't match Washington's high-powered unit.

"They scored a couple power-play goals, we stunk it up on ours," Carolina captain Justin Williams said.

As much of a complete effort as it was for the Capitals, it was that much of a missed opportunity for the upstart Hurricanes, who looked frazzled at times after dominating long stretches of the past two games. For the fifth time in five games, the team that scored first — and the home team — won, something the Hurricanes hope to continue back at home facing elimination.

"We've just got to make sure at home we get that first one and get our crowd into it," said defenceman Jaccob Slavin, who was on the ice for five Capitals goals. "It's do or die now."

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