In Game 4, it was a crossbar that Sergei Fedorov hit early in the first period when the game was tied. Saturday night in Game 5 at Verizon Center, it was the missed opportunity by David Steckel 20 seconds into overtime.
Steckel had an open net, but the puck was bouncing and he couldn't settle it down. He was able to take a whack at the puck from in front of the net, but he ended up batting it wide of the net.
Roughly three minutes later, the Caps' bad luck reared its ugly head again in the worst kind of way.
Evgeni Malkin's attempted pass to Sidney Crosby on the power play went off a diving Tom Poti's stick and through Simeon Varlamov's legs for the overtime winner, giving the Penguins' a 4-3 victory and a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
"You can see it, first shift Stecks missed empty net and I said, 'Jesus, where is our luck?' " Ovechkin said. "The puck is bouncing and the next shift they get power play and score goal."
Ovechkin had a superstar performance offensively with an assist and two game-tying goals, including one with 4:08 left in regulation that sent the game to OT -- but Washington blew a 2-1 lead after the second intermission and missed a glorious chance to win the game in overtime.
Pittsburgh has a chance to close out the series in Game 6 Monday night at Mellon Arena.
"I think we played good, but it's not good enough," Ovechkin said. "Next game is going to be different. They were in the situation when they lost (two in a row) and they came back right now, but it's not over yet. If somebody thinks it's over, it's not over."
Coach Bruce Boudreau felt Saturday's effort was probably the Capitals' best in this series, but Ovechkin didn't totally agree.
He thought Washington was very good for the first 40 minutes, but after Ruslan Fedotenko scored just 51 seconds into the third period he felt the Capitals sat back too much and stopped moving the puck.
Matt Cooke fired home the go-ahead goal 6:27 into the period off a second rebound -- the second time in as many games that the Penguins scored on their third whack at the puck from in front of the net.
"If we're going to play the same way we played in the first two periods, we're going to win this series," Ovechkin deadpanned. "We just have to play it simple, get the puck deep and make pressure for their D."
Ovechkin gave the Caps new life when he scored his second of the game on a one-timer off the rush. Mike Green fed the puck to Nicklas Backstrom cutting down the middle and the Swedish center slid it over to Ovechkin in the lower right circle.
Steckel had his early chance in overtime, but the final three minutes belonged to the Penguins.
Actually, they belonged to Malkin.
The other Russian superstar in this series drew a tripping penalty on Milan Jurcina 1:29 into OT and stayed on the ice for the full power play. He used a power move to get around Sergei Fedorov, who was playing defense, before backhanding a pass that went off Poti and into the net.
"We played well, but Malkin had a two-minute shift and he had the puck and just go around our D and try to make a pass and it hit our stick and goes into the net," Ovechkin said. "It's kind of a lucky goal, but it's a goal to win the game."
It's the kind of lucky goal Ovechkin and the Caps just can't get right now.
"Overtime, it's all about mistakes," Ovechkin said. "Players are going to score goals with the kind of mistakes we made. We give Malkin too many chances, he makes breakaway and (Jurcina) has to take a penalty. And, after that he just beat our defenseman (Fedorov) as our defenseman tried to make a safe play, but it didn't work. It's all about mistakes."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org