Call it the Meltdown at Mellon.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were cruising along to another win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night when someone changed the script.
The Penguins led 3-0 less than two minutes into the second period, and it looked like they were on their way to another win over the Caps — after entering the game with a 10-1-1 mark since Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin entered the NHL in 2005.
But this time, the Caps wouldn't quit. Tomas Fleischmann scored at 5:45 to give the Caps some life, and goals by Alexander Semin and Michael Nylander in the first 10 minutes got Washington even. Boyd Gordon's goal with 4:17 remaining completed the comeback and gave Washington a 4-3 stunning victory.
"We kept pushing and pushing," said Ovechkin, who didn't score a goal for the second successive game. "Maybe we were sleeping the first two periods, I don't know, but we weren't playing our hockey. The first period we were terrible, we were giving them lots of chances to score goals."
Gordon broke a 3-3 tie when he won a faceoff with Crosby, then snapped off a wrist shot that hit the pipe in the back of the net and rebounded back onto the ice so quickly that the referees initially waved it off. The teams played for another two minutes before play was stopped — time that was restored after a video replay showed Gordon's shot going in for his first goal of the season.
"I had a feeling — it sounded dead coming off the back bar," Gordon said. "I had a pretty good hunch they were going to count it."
It was an incredible letdown for the Penguins.
"Unacceptable. It's pretty simple," coach Michel Therrien said. "We played pretty well the first two periods. (In the third) it was immature and unacceptable.
"We lost the game because we stopped working in the third period. The power play was good, but 5-on-5, we were horrible. We're not paying the price to score goals."
The loss was the first of his career against the Caps for Fleury, who had won all seven decisions against them.
Washington has won three in a row since an opening-night loss at Atlanta. The Penguins have lost three of their last four — and though Crosby had two assists, he has yet to score.
The Penguins dominated the first period and left the ice with a 2-0 lead when rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski and Evgeni Malkin scored less than five minutes apart in the first period. Miroslav Satan's easy tap-in put the Penguins up by three and seemed to foretell another win for Crosby and the Pens, who dominated the Caps and Ovechkin in the two stars' first three years in the League.
But Fleischmann capitalized on a turnover by defenseman Brooks Orpik to give the Caps some life.
Semin scored 3:38 into the third period with a blast past Marc-Andre Fleury after Nylander won a draw cleanly. Nylander tied the game at the 10-minute mark when he finished a three-way passing play that began with Semin's cross-ice pass to Fleischmann. He tapped the puck back across to Nylander, who got enough to nudge it past Fleury's glove hand.
"We tried to sit back," Crosby said. "Sometimes when you get a lead like that you think it's going to be easy. We didn't play the right way.
"We gave it back to them. We didn't make them earn it."
Ovechkin had five shots but didn't get a point. He did do a lot of banging with fellow Russian Malkin, who assisted on the two goals he didn't score.
"Ovechkin is a great player, but every time he hits me — I don't know why," Malkin said when asked why Ovechkin seemed to be going out of his way to hit him.
So why all the physicality?
"It's just a hockey game. I hit hard with everybody," Ovechkin said.