May 3 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: 104.7 FM, 1500 AM and Capitals Radio 24/7
Game 4, Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round, Penguins lead 2-1.
After the Capitals dropped the first two games of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center, Washington coach Barry Trotz was resolute as to his team's mission.
"Going forward here," said Trotz in the aftermath of the Caps' 6-2 home ice setback to the Pens on Saturday night, "Let's call it what it is. We dropped two games here. We're going to go [to Pittsburgh] to win two games there."
Video: Barry Trotz | May 2
You can't win two games in Pittsburgh until you first win one there, and the Caps got that first one on Monday, taking a 3-2 overtime win from the Pens in a rollercoaster tilt. Kevin Shattenkirk's overtime game-winner on a Washington power play came at the 3:13 mark of the extra session, papering over a remarkable Pittsburgh comeback in which the resilient Pens scored twice in a span of 48 seconds with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime.
Pittsburgh engineered that comeback and put itself in good position to take a 3-0 chokehold on the series without team captain Sidney Crosby, who left the game and did not return after absorbing a Matt Niskanen crosscheck to the face early in the first period. Niskanen was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct on the play.
On Wednesday, Pens coach Mike Sullivan informed reporters that Crosby has been diagnosed with a concussion, and he will not play in Wednesday's Game 4 of the series. Pens winger Conor Sheary also has a concussion; he took the brunt of a hit from teammate Patric Hornqvist, who was trying to hit Caps center Lars Eller. Hornqvist missed Eller and got Sheary instead.
"We're going to take each day as it comes," says Sullivan. "We're going to take the one game right in front of us and we're going to do our very best to win that game.
"Listen, we've got a good hockey team here. We have a two-games-to-one lead in the series. We're proud of how our guys played [Monday] night. We loved their compete level, we loved the resilience that this team shows in the face of adversity and the challenges that this group is presented with. They always respond in the right way. There is no doubt in my mind we'll do that again."
Pittsburgh has recalled forwards Josh Archibald and Oskar Sundqvist from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Tuesday. Archibald is a sixth-rounder (174th overall) from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft who netted 16 goals in 61 games for the Baby Pens this season, the last year of his entry-level deal. He also scored three goals in 10 NHL games with Pittsburgh.
Sundqvist is a third-rounder (81st overall) from the 2012 NHL Draft who has a goal and four points in 28 NHL contests with the Pens in the last two seasons. The second-year pro netted 20 goals in 63 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.
Throughout the season, the Penguins continued to thrive despite injuries to several key players, and they've continued to do so in the playoffs. Pittsburgh has won six of its eight playoff games this spring despite playing without No. 1 netminder Matt Murray and top defenseman Kris Letang.
"We just need guys to step up, I guess," says Pens defensemen Justin Schultz, asked about the possibility of playing without Crosby as the series moves forward. "We've done a good job without [Letang] in the lineup for us, so if Sid happens to be out, I'm sure we have the guys in here who can step up."
Video: Nate Schmidt | May 2
Getting goals from Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Caps took a 2-0 lead into the final two minutes of Monday's Game 3. But with Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury off for an extra attacker, the Pens won all three offensive-zone face-offs over a span of 90 seconds, and got goals from Evgeni Malkin at 18:07 and Schultz at 18:55 of the third to stun Washington, sending the game into overtime.
Washington's Marcus Johansson drew a holding call on Trevor Daley early in the extra session, driving the net on a semi-breakaway. Thirty-three seconds and a Shattenkirk drive through traffic later, the Caps had the first of those two wins they're seeking in Pittsburgh.
"I just tried to keep the game close," says Fleury. "I always believe we can come back in a game no matter what the score is. Again tonight we showed our character with those two late goals. It's disappointing to lose like that on a penalty kill in overtime."
As for the Capitals, they made it more interesting than it needed to be, but they still got their first win of the series.
"We're satisfied as much as we could be with the win," says Caps right wing T.J. Oshie. "At the end there, we've got to find a way to close it out [in regulation]. It's happened a couple too many times to us here in the playoffs. I like our response in OT, with [Johansson] doing a great job driving to the net and drawing that [penalty] and then closing it out. But there are a couple more notches we can go, for sure."
If the Capitals are to overcome the Penguins in this series, they'll need to find those notches, regardless of who is in or out of the lineup for Pittsburgh.
"Obviously [Monday's win] is big, but it only helps if you use it the right way," says Caps goalie Braden Holtby, who made 28 saves to earn the victory. "But coming out with the overtime victory and the adversity at the end with the two goals [against] and probably a penalty that should have been called for interference, and we didn't budge. We kept going and we dominated in overtime. That's what we need to feed off of in Game 4 if we're going to have success."
Three games into this series, the Caps are still down a game and still must win three of the next four contests in order to move on. They were in the same position after three games in their first-round series against Toronto.
Video: Jay Beagle | May 2
"I think we've got to play the same way [on Wednesday]," says Caps center Jay Beagle, "I thought we played a really good game, coming down to the last three minutes. I think we play the same way. We go out, and we've got to go after them. Play the right way for a full 60 minutes, and if it takes overtime, that's the way you have to play against these guys. You can't give them anything, and you've got to limit their odd-man rushes and their [offensive] zone play."
"Right now we're down 2-1 in this series," says Trotz. "We have to have our best game to this point [on Wednesday]. We're going to have to raise it to another level."