On Friday night in Game 5 at Verizon Center, after firing 35 shots on Lundqvist — 21 in the third period and overtime combined — the Capitals finally broke through. Mike Ribeiro scored 9 minutes 24 seconds into overtime to give Washington a 2-1 win , lifting the Capitals into a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 is 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
In the Alex Ovechkin era, the Capitals have been tied two games apiece in a playoff series three times. They’ve gone 1-2 in those contests, with the Game 5 outcome mirroring the ultimate result of the series each time
Ribeiro’s goal, his first of the postseason, didn’t come from a well set-up play like several chances Ovechkin had earlier in the game or off a sweet series of dekes like Mathieu Perreault assembled early in overtime when he seemed to have Lundqvist beat.
Instead, Ribeiro scored after the puck redirected to him on the right side of the net following a point shot by Karl Alzner that struck the skate of New York defenseman Anton Stralman.
“All game we were grinding. All game, our line — pucks were in his cage, the puck wasn’t bouncing, and the puck just show up there,” Ribeiro said. “I was at the right time, the right moment, and we’ll take this win.
“They’re a team that will take time and space on the ice. They’re a team that likes to block shots, so we need to be patient and not get frustrated,” Ribeiro said. “We did a great job of doing that tonight — just saying patient and waiting and waiting and just turned them down wave after wave and putting pucks deep and forechecking those Ds and we were able to get that goal.”
Perhaps no one was more patient than Ribeiro, who said earlier in the week he hoped to contribute more offensively. The veteran center’s game-winner marked just his third goal in the last 20 games and first since April 18. The tally punctuated what was an overall strong game in which he also drew a penalty and won 19 of the 27 faceoffs.
“He was due,” Perreault said. “He hadn’t scored in a while and he’s been working out, doing a lot of good things for us and he finally got that goal. It was huge”.
Two hours before the game, Oates said he was concerned his team would be tight at the start. The Capitals had rough first periods that damaged their efforts in losses in Games 3 and 4 in New York and they couldn’t afford such a start at home.
“I’m worried about our start tonight,” Oates said before the game. “You’ve got your home crowd, which should give you life, but you’ve got to make good decisions with the puck. Let’s get it in, get our legs and get into the rhythm of the game.”