LANDOVER -- The Pittsburgh Penguins saw their opportunities, and they took them. Because of that, they have the opportunity to continue defending their Stanley Cup title.
The Penguins, facing elimination by the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs, forced a sixth game with a 5-2 victory last night at the Capital Centre.
"We took advantage of the opportunities that were given us, and that's what we have to do to continue to win," Penguins goaltender Tom Barrasso said.
The Capitals took an early, 2-1 lead before 17,621 screaming fans on goals by Todd Krygier and Al Iafrate, but Pittsburgh scored the final four goals.
Bryan Trottier, Bob Errey (twice), former Capital Larry Murphy and Jaromir Jagr scored for the Penguins. Errey and Murphy rallied Pittsburgh to a 3-2 lead after two periods, and Jagr added an insurance goal on a breakaway in the third period. Errey scored an empty-net goal in the final minute.
"It's only one game, but it's one we desperately needed," said Errey. "We played a different style of game tonight and kept Dino Ciccarrelli in check. We took away their speed, stopped their power play and played tough defensively."
Barrasso was outstanding for Pittsburgh, thwarting the Capitals with 21 saves, several on point-blank shots.
"There is still a sense of urgency being down 3-2," Barrasso said, "but we are playing the next game at home, and that is a big plus. We stressed team defense tonight, and that was the key."
Pittsburgh coach Scotty said: "We played a solid defensive game. We were able to do that because we got ahead in the second period and we made the lead stand up."
Pittsburgh shut down Washington on all four of its power-play chances and limited the Capitals to 23 shots on goal, 12 in the final two periods. Washington had been averaging 32 shots.
Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, who was held to an assist, said: "I think we were very patient and had a good game plan. We piled up their defensemen and slowed them down. We felt that turnovers were going to be a big part of the game, and we waited for our chances. Discipline was a big part of it. We still have to win two games, and the next game we're going to have to adjust again to what Washington is doing."
"We beat ourselves in the second period," Capitals coach Terry Murray said. "We gave up two goals we shouldn't have. Errey was left alone for the tying goal, and we failed to clear the rebound on Murphy's power-play goal.
"We got caught in a transition game, and that's something you can't afford against the Penguins. We made too many mental mistakes. Instead of dumping the puck in the corners, we tried to carry it in. We tried to do too much individually instead of playing like we did in the first four games.
"Pittsburgh, which knew it had to come up with the big game or they were finished, went to a prevent defense and never let us get any rhythm established."
"The bottom line is that Pittsburgh wanted the game more than we did," said Iafrate. "In the third period, they executed a perfect game play. They had one forechecker stand us up at the blue line so we couldn't penetrate. That's when you have to try and outsmart them.
Pittsburgh and Washington traded first-period goals. The Penguins went ahead 1-0 when Trottier poked the rebound of a shot under Don Beaupre's pads at 2:43.
The Capitals tied the score on Krygier's goal at 12:36 on a breakaway. Krygier was lurking at the center line unguarded. Sylvain Cote passed the puck to Krygier, who took off unimpeded toward the Pittsburgh goal and beat Barrasso with a shot off the goalie's pads.
The Capitals took a 2-1 lead at 7:53 of the second period on Iafrate's goal from the right circle. Iafrate's shot went through Barrasso's pads and trickled into the nets.
The Penguins rallied with two goals for a 3-2 lead at the end of the second period. Errey took a perfect cross-slot pass from Jagr and beat Beaupre from close range at 10:16. Murphy gave
Pittsburgh the lead at 17:32 scoring on the rebound of a shot by Lemieux during a power play.
Caps vs. Penguins
Washington leads series, 3-2 Game 1: Washington 3, Pittsburgh 1
Game 2: Washington 6, Pittsburgh 2
Game 3: Pittsburgh 6, Washington 4
Game 4: Washington 7, Pittsburgh 2
Yesterday: Pittsburgh 5, Washington 2
Tomorrow: At Pittsburgh, 7:35 p.m.
Friday: At Washington, 7:35 p.m.*
* -- if necessary