May 9, 2016
UPDATE: Capital lose to the Penguins in overtime in final game of playoffs 4 – 3.
After losing back-to-back games the Capitals found themselves facing elimination as they headed back to Washington for Game 5. With their season on the line, the Caps, led by Alex Ovechkin, answered with 3-1 victory Saturday night to stay alive and force a Game 6.
The 3-2 overtime loss in Game 4 was a huge disappointment for Washington, who had hoped to even the series instead of dig themselves into a deeper hole. After a historically good season, the Caps once again found themselves on the verge of an early playoff exit. But Ovechkin proved once again that he is a force to be reckoned with, scoring a power-play goal 4:04 into the first period, and assisting T.J. Oshie’s goal in the third.
“He’s our leader. We look up to him,” Oshie said. “When you see a guy like him that can beat you in so many different ways come out and bring that type of energy, you’d better get on board or just stay on the bench.”
The Penguins’ lone goal came towards the end of the first period, when they tied it 1-1. But they were unable to answer Washington’s two second-period goals, and after a scoreless third period, Washington walked away with the victory. Ovechkin’s performance was supported by goals by Oshie and Justin Williams and 30 saves by goalie Braden Holtby.
Washington has now cut the deficit 3-2, but they once again face a win-or-go-home scenario on Tuesday night. Thankfully, Ovechkin believes the team performs well under pressure.
“We didn’t want to give up,” Ovechkin said. “When we have pressure, it’s kind of our time. The guys responded well.”
The Capitals will face the Penguins on the road Tuesday night. They will need to win both games in order to advance to the semifinals.
“We stopped it once, now we need to do it twice more,” Williams said.
In what could foreshadow a playoff match-up, the Washington Nationals faced the Chicago Cubs for a four-game series last weekend. The Cubs (24-6), an early favorite to win the World Series, proved why they had the best record in baseball as they swept the Nats 4-0.
After losing the first three games by two or more runs, the Nats (19-12) played their closest game of the series Sunday afternoon. Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI-double in the third to get Washington on the board first. Both teams added a run in the fourth inning, before Wilson Ramos drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the fifth for a 3-1 lead.
Kris Bryant evened the score with a two-run single in the seventh, and the Nats were unable to respond. The game extended into extra innings, with the Cubs nabbing the win with a 13th inning walk-off home run by Javier Baez. Offensive powerhouse Bryce Harper, who scored the Nationals first run on Zimmerman’s single, was limited in his contribution, as the Cubs opted to pitch around him for much of the series.
Harper tied a major-league record with six walks in a single game Sunday, and set a record of walks in a four-game series at 13. Behind Harper, Zimmerman struggled at the plate, going just 1-for-7 and leaving a record setting 14 men on base during the 4-3 loss.
“I mean, it’s doubly tough, especially to play that long and have that many chances and you’re sitting on the edge of your seat,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “We had opportunities, big time. To lose a game like that, it hurts. But yo don’t have any choice, really, you gotta lick your wounds, and limp back home, then gain some strength when you get back home.”
The Nats, who went 5-5 on their 10-game road trip, begin a seven-game home stand, starting with a three-game series against Detroit on Monday night.