Neuvirth magnificent against Capitals as Flyers force Game 6
WASHINGTON >> Michal Neuvirth made a playoff career-high 44 saves and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 2-0 in Game 5 on Friday night to stay alive in their first-round series.
Neuvirth was dominant, carrying the team on his shoulders and blunting Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals' every charge to cut the series deficit to 3-2 and send it back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Sunday.
Ryan White scored the lone goal for the Flyers against Braden Holtby, with the puck deflectingin off Washington defenseman Taylor Chorney and past the goalie.
Chris VandeVelde added an empty-netter late.
Holtby was barely tested in making 10 saves.
The pressure is now on the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals, who led the series 3-0 before Neuvirth replaced Steve Mason in goal for Philadelphia. Washington lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time all season.
Sidelined by a lower-body injury for three weeks, Neuvirth only played two games since March 4 before making his Flyers playoff debut in Game 4 on Wednesday, stopping 31 of 32 shots against the team that drafted and developed him.
Neuvirth faced the Capitals in relief while with the New York Islanders in the 2015 playoffs, but this was his big opportunity. Some of his former teammates made sure it was a busy one.
The Capitals put on a shooting gallery against Neuvirth almost all game, hemming the Flyers in their zone and forcing him to be sharp. The 28-year-old Czech made a big glove save on Daniel Winnik short-handed attempt early in the second period to keep the Capitals off the board, and then Philadelphia finally gave him some support.
Three seconds after another unsuccessful power play, White was credited with the goal when it banked off Chorney's skate and in. The Flyers fell to 1 for 21 on the power play in the series but remained alive.
Neuvirth was singlehandedly the reason for that as he sprawled to stop Karl Alzner, denied Ovechkin and robbed Marcus Johansson in the second period. In the third he denied Dmitry Orlov on a rush and smothered the puck and handled a slap shot from Ovechkin.
On a Capitals power play midway through the third, Neuvirth made another stand and always looked in control while facing an onslaught. VandeVelde scored an empty-netter with 30.8 seconds left to seal it.
The 33-shot disparity (44 to 11) tied the second-biggest margin by a losing playoff team since 1989-90, according to STATS.
NOTES: Capitals forward T.J. Oshie fought Flyers forward Brayden Schenn off the opening faceoff. The Capitals were unhappy about Schenn slashing Evgeny Kuznetsov in the leg during Game 4, and Schenn respected Oshie for challenging him to a fight. ... Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik missed his second consecutive game with an upper-body injury suffered on a hit by White on Monday.
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