The big question heading into Saturday's night Game 5 between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning was if finally a team will be able to win in front of their local fans as we are now facing a best out of three series in the Eastern Conference finals. The Bolts did not waste time proving they could be the first team in this third round series to clinch a win on home ice after a crazy first period.
After just 19 seconds of play, Lightning forward Cedric Paquette scored the first goal of the game, as the entire Capitals team seemed to be just getting warmed up for the fifth contest. Dmitry Orlov looked like a fool on the play, and it seemed like an easy shot for star goalie Braden Holtby who did not manage to stop the puck as it made way through his five hole.
The Bolts kept pushing from there. Tampa Bay continue to press the offense as the Capitals struggled to just shoot on goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Nine minutes after the opening goal, Ondrej Palat doubled the score for the Lightning and the home crowd went wild.
In the meantime, Capitals fans went nuts on social media - but for very different reasons. The Washington fan base does not understand why Holtby has been struggling since the start of this crucial Game 5. Many of them are being quite critical of Holtby's performance in the first period, and are already demanding that backup Phillip Grubauer takes over in between the pipes for the rest of the contest.
Back in the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Grubauer got the start for the first game of the postseason over Holtby. Grubauer had been the better goaltender this season, posting a .923 save percentage and a 2.35 goals-against average in 35 games. Holtby, meanwhile, regressed significantly, as he registered just a .907 save percentage and a 2.99 GAA in 54 contests.
If it can cheer up the many fans who commented on Holtby's performance in the first period of Game 5, he was much better following the second goal by Palat. It seems like he has finally woken up, while the rest of the team needs to realize the game is on!