Washington leads series, 2-1
In a must-win situation, the Penguins registered 42 shots on goal and got a phenomenal performance from NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin but the Penguins needed overtime to solve the Washington Capitals in Game 3.
Defenseman Kris Letang scored his first career playoff goal, netting the OT winner at 11:22 of the first overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 Wednesday night at Mellon Arena to cut the Capitals series lead in half.
While Letang rescued the Penguins in overtime, the story of the game was the performance of Evgeni Malkin. Malkin carried the Penguins on his back in the third period, and broke a 1-1 tie, scoring his 5th goal of the playoffs at 15:01 of the third period with a blistering wrist shot from the top right circle, past Capitals goaltender Simeon Varlamov.
Malkin’s heroics would have been the main story of the game, if Capitals forward Niklas Backstrom didn’t tie the game at 2-2 with less than two minutes remaining in the third period to force overtime.
Backstrom’s third period tally put the Penguins on the ropes as a loss would have put the Penguins in a 0-3 hole. Sidney Crosby indicated after the game the Penguins showed great poise in not losing their focus after the Capitals forced overtime.
“The guys could have got frustrated, we kept with it and stuck with it and we eventually got rewarded.”Any time you go down 2-0 on the road, you know when you come home you’ve got to respond.”
The Penguins outshot the Capitals 42-23 and were awarded seven power plays compared to the Capitals two. Rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov nearly stole game 3 from the Penguins and has put aside any question marks that he would be the Capitals downfall in their second round series against Pittsburgh.
Alexander Ovechkin opened the scoring, netting his 8th goal of the playoffs, just 1:23 into the first period. Ovechkin has 5 goals in the series but the Penguins contained Ovechkin for the most part Wednesday night.
Sidney Crosby added two assists as his three game goal scoring streak snapped. Ruslan Fedotenko played his best game of the playoffs. Fedotenko notched the Penguins first goal of the game at 9:29 of the second period, converting a 2-on-1 opportunity with Max Talbot.
Head Coach Dan Bylsma made one lineup change, replacing Petr Sykora with Miroslav Satan. Bylsma also altered his lines, moving Max Talbot to the second line with Evgeni Malkin, Ruslan Fedotenko while Miroslav Satan skated with the Penguins 4th line.
Eric Godard and Philippe Boucher were the Penguins other scratches.
Game 4 is Friday in Pittsburgh.