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BIG MOMENTS: Penguins-Capitals

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With the Penguins suddenly in the driver's seat in their second round showdown with the Capitals, anticipation will be high among the Pittsburgh hometown crowd Monday night at Mellon Arena, where Sidney Crosby's squad can clinch a second straight Eastern Conference Final appearance.

However, Alex Ovechkin just might have yet another big moment up his sweater sleeve to force a seventh and decisive game back in Washington. Will it happen?

As we have been doing throughout the playoffs, NHL.com is tracking the Big Moments from every game with you, the fan, voting for your favorites.  Below are the Big Moments you have voted for through the first four games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between Pittsbugh and Washington.

Thanks to all who voted -- and enjoy the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs!


Game 1: WASHINGTON 3, PITTSBURGH 2 | Video | Photos

Varlamov's super save (64.94 % of vote)

With two minutes left in the second period, Chris Kunitz brought the puck up ice, drawing in Capitals' rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov.

At the last moment, Kunitz fed the puck across the crease to a streaking Sidney Crosby, who tipped a shot into what appeared to be a wide-open net. 

But Varlamov had other ideas, throwing his stick back to meet the puck just as it was ready to cross the goal line and preserving the 2-2 tie as the clubs headed into the decisive third period.


Game 2WASHINGTON 4, PITTSBURGH 3 | Video | Photos

Ovie's hat-trick goal (50.99 % of vote)

Two goals just weren’t enough for Alex Ovechkin. Just 2:29 after giving the Capitals a 3-2 lead, Ovechkin delivered again. 

Ovie skated in on a one-on-one situation against Pittsburgh’s top defenseman, Sergei Gonchar. But there was nothing Gonchar could do as Ovechkin came through yet again. As Ovechkin skated in, he used Gonchar as a screen and wristed a shot to the top corner of the net, beating Fleury for the third time in the game.

Alex Ovechkin finished Game 2 with his first career playoff hat trick on twelve shots on goal, as he was clearly the player of the game. His third goal gave the Capitals a two-goal lead late in the third period, a lead that would prove very important in the final minute of play.


Game 3PITTSBURGH 3, WASHINGTON 2 (OT) | Video | Photos

Letang's OT winner (39.58% of vote)

The endgame for Pittsburgh came following a frenzied overtime where the Pens buzzed in the Caps' zone for most of the time. 

After Simeon Varlamov covered up the puck after Evgeni Malkin just missed a long pass that would have given him a breakaway, Sidney Crosby won the ensuing faceoff.  The puck found its way back to the left point, where Kris Letang unleashed a 58-foot slapshot, which bounced off a Washington defender behind Varlamov for a 3-2 Penguins victory.




Game 4PITTSBURGH 5, WASHINGTON 3 | Video | Photos

Talbot beats Varlamov (32.20 % of vote)

A shorthanded goal by Milan Jurcina had given the Capitals life early in the third period, but after eight minutes of holding down Washington's attack, the Pens cleared the puck and Maxime Talbot got back at Varlamov after having been robbed earlier in the third. Talbot picked the puck up off the boards near the red line. With two Capitals racing in front of him, Talbot raced past both of them and fired a shot from the left faceoff circle.

The puck got through Simeon Varlamov, giving the Pens a two-goal edge. Talbot's score effectively ended any chance of a comeback for the Caps, evening the series at 2-2.




Game 5PITTSBURGH 4, WASHINGTON 3 (OT) | Video | Photos

Malkin's OT Winner (58.51 % of vote)

With Milan Jurcina in the box for pulling down Evgeni Malkin, the Pens had a rare power-play opportunity in OT.

After a broken play in their defensive zone, Malkin raced down the right wing, using his blazing speed to put pressure on the Capitals' defense. With Sidney Crosby streaking down the off-wing, Simeon Varlamov was concentrating on stopping the Penguins captain when Malkin's pass went careening off Washington defenseman Tom Poti and into the back of the net.

The goal gave Pittsburgh its seventh consecutive OT win and sent the Pens home with a chance to end the series Monday night. For the Capitals it was a crushing goal -- one that they'll need a lot of resilience to recover from in time for Game 6.

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