Capitals fend off elimination

WASHINGTON --- The young Washington Capitals finally seem to be getting the hang of this thing called playoff hockey.


With just the right mix of brawn and skill, the Capitals stayed alive Saturday by knocking the Philadelphia Flyers off stride early and holding onto the lead with another solid game from goaltender Cristobal Huet, winning 3-2 in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.

Nicklas Backstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Semin scored the goals -- one in each period -- Huet made 30 saves, and league Most Valuable Player candidate Alex Ovechkin made up for another frustrating offensive effort by depositing Jim Dowd headfirst into the Philadelphia bench for the highlight hip-check of the game.

Vaclav Prospal scored for the Flyers in the second period, and Derian Hatcher made things interesting when he scored with 4:43 remaining -- less than a minute after Semin's power-play goal had given the Capitals a brief 3-1 advantage.

The Flyers still have a 3-2 lead in the series and will have another chance to clinch in Game 6 at home Monday.

The Capitals, in the playoffs for the first time since 2003, showed their playoff inexperience when they were dominated in the first three games of the series. They stole Game 1 with a third-period comeback, but their best game before Saturday was the double-overtime loss in Thursday's Game 4, when they started to match the physical play of the Flyers.

The Capitals went up 1-0 after Ovechkin drew a hooking penalty on Kimmo Timonen during a power play to give Washington a two-man advantage. Backstrom converted the 5-on-3 on the doorstep on a pass from Semin.


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