Penguins-Capitals Game 5: Winner Here Likely Takes Series

Matthew Jordan

Friday, May 4, 2018 1:28 PM UTC

Friday, May. 4, 2018 1:28 PM UTC

It has been a fantastic Penguins-Capitals Eastern Conference semifinal series thus far as it returns to D.C. on Saturday night for Game 5 with it tied 2-2.

Game 5: Pittsburgh (2-2) at Washington (2-2)Free NHL Pick: Penguins (& Under)Best Line Offered: BetPhoenix

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Looks to be a great night of hockey on Saturday with two Game 5s in what have been wholly entertaining series thus far. The late game on the NBC Sports Network (9:30 p.m. ET) is Jets at Predators with that tied 2-2. My cohort Dana Lane will have a preview of that here at SBR. I’m here to talk about Penguins-Capitals Game 5 from Washington, D.C. It’s a puck drop of 7 p.m. ET on NBC.

I believe both winners Saturday will win their series. The vast majority of Game 5 winners do in a 2-2 series. Plus, both home teams Saturday would host a potential Game 7. Actually, Washington might prefer NOT to be at home on Saturday as the team is just 2-3 at Capital One Arena in these playoffs. The Caps lost the first two games in the first round, both in overtime, to Columbus before taking Game 6 4-3 in OT. Washington lost Game 1 of this series 3-2 to Pittsburgh but then bounced back with a 4-1 victory. On the flip side, the Penguins are 4-1 on the road. They were 3-0 in Philadelphia in Round 1 and took Game 1 of this series before dropping Game 2.

For what it’s worth, these teams played a Game 5 in D.C. each of the past two playoffs. In 2016, the Penguins were up 3-1 in the series and lost 3-1 in Washington before finishing it off at home in Game 6. Last year, Pittsburgh also led 3-1 but lost Game 5, 4-2. The Pens then dropped Game 6 at home before winning Game 7 back in D.C.

On the Sports Interaction series line, Washington is -125 and Pittsburgh -110.

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Caps Missed Wilson!

The big news entering Thursday’s Game 4, won 3-1 by Pittsburgh, was the three-game suspension handed out by the NHL to Capitals winger Tom Wilson for his big hit on Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese on Tuesday night, breaking ZAR’s jaw and giving him a concussion. Did Wilson deserve a suspension? No question. Were three games perhaps one too many? Many around the NHL, at least outside Pittsburgh, think so. Wilson’s background surely was used against him because he escaped suspension for a hit to the head of Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin in Game 2.

Washington clearly missed Wilson’s physicality in Game 4, not to mention he had 14 goals and 21 assists in the regular season (along with 187 penalty minutes). In these playoffs, he had two goals, five assists a plus-7 rating and 14 penalty minutes in nine games. How much was Wilson missed? With him on the top line along with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ovechkin had 31 shot attempts in the first three games of the series, resulting in three goals and two assists. With Devante Smith-Pelly in Wilson’s spot Thursday, Ovechkin had just two missed shots. The future Hall of Famer was held without a shot on goal in a playoff game for only the third time in his career and first time this season since Feb. 17. Washington managed just 21 shots, its fewest in these playoffs.

To make matters worse, T.J. Oshie might be called for a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety after leaving his feet on a hit he delivered toward Kris Letang. Those two then fought with under a minute left and the game decided.

The No. 1 star of Game 4 was Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel, who had two goals. He scored the first of the game at 9:21 of the second and then the clincher at 19:02 of the third on the power play (empty-netter). He now leads the NHL playoffs (entering Friday) with 21 points, 10 goals and rating of plus-12. Guentzel has scored at least 10 goals in each of his first two postseasons. The only other player to do that in NHL history was Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux, who scored at least 10 in each of his first three postseasons.

Evgeni Malkin had the other Pittsburgh goal, while Matt Murray had his best outing of the series. The Pens also got back left winger Carl Hagelin from an upper-body injury that caused him to miss the first three games. He had two shots and two blocked shots in 16:11.

  • Penguins are 14-6 in their last 20 games playing on 1 day of rest.
  • Under is 6-1 in Capitals last 7 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
  • Under is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings in Washington.

I thought Washington would win this series, but that Wilson suspension has changed everything. I no longer think that. Back the Penguins for a Saturday NHL pick with a slight lean also to the ‘under.’

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