WASHINGTON - When it comes to the Washington Capitals, the Pittsburgh Penguins excel at playing from behind. They've done it so well they finally have the lead.
The Penguins overcame a third-period deficit, survived Alex Ovechkin's tying goal late in regulation, then won the game on Evgeni Malkin's power-play tally 3:28 into overtime Saturday night for a 4-3 victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Jordan Staal, Ruslan Fedotenko and Matt Cooke also scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves for the Penguins, who have won three straight after dropping the first two games of the series. Since 1991, Washington has lost five series in which it blew a lead against Pittsburgh, including 2-0 advantages in 1992 and 1996.
The winning goal came with one second remaining in the advantage. Defenceman Milan Jurcina had been sent to the box for tripping Malkin to stop a possible breakaway. Malkin's winning shot deflected off the stick of defenceman Tom Poti and past rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov, giving the Penguins a chance to close out the series Monday at Pittsburgh.
The Penguins became the first road team to win in the series and they were the first to win after scoring first.
Although the series was tied 2-2, there was little debate the Penguins had played better. Sidney Crosby's team dominated a 5-3 victory Friday night in Game 4, and - thanks to back-to-back games caused by next week's Yanni concert in Pittsburgh - the young Capitals came home with little time to regroup from two fragile performances.
Ovechkin scored his ninth and 10th goals of the playoffs, and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals. Varlamov made 38 saves, rebounding from his first poor game of the playoffs the night before.
Crosby, who entered with nine goals and 16 points in the playoffs, had a five-game point streak snapped.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead in the second period when Staal, unmarked near the crease, traded passes with Miroslav Satan and chipped a close-range shot inside the far post.
The Capitals tied it 59 seconds later when Ovechkin fired a shot from beyond the left circle that Fleury couldn't see. Ovechkin celebrated by sticking his left index finger high in the air. Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik appeared to object by raising his hand toward Ovechkin's chest.
A penalty for too many men on the ice led to a Capitals goal late in the second period. Backstrom worked a nice give-and-go with Sergei Fedorov before beating Fleury to the glove side from the right circle.
The Penguins tied it early in the third on Fedotenko's shot from the top of the left circle. Pittsburgh then took the lead with 13:33 left in regulation when former Capitals left wing Cooke lifted a rebound over Varlamov.
The Capitals came to back one more time on Ovechkin's second goal.
Varlamov was shaken up in the first minute of overtime in a collision involving Crosby and Capitals defenceman Brian Pothier.
Soon afterward, the Penguins were awarded the decisive power play when Jurcina brought down Malkin.
The nasty feelings between the teams resurfaced after the first-period horn, when Ovechkin gave Orpik a late shove. The ensuing scrum resulted in roughing penalties for Ovechkin, Orpik, Malkin and John Erskine.
Orpik had been critical of Ovechkin after Friday game, in which the Capitals superstar injured Penguins defenceman Sergei Gonchar with a knee-to-knee hit. "To us, we got the feeling he's really trying to hurt guys at times," Orpik said.
Notes: Ovechkin's 10 goals lead the NHL. ... Backstrom has scored in three straight games, and his goal gave him the franchise record for consecutive games (8) with a point. The previous mark was set by Geoff Courtnall in 1990. ... Gonchar, as expected, was scratched, although Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said the defenceman's injury was not as severe as initially thought. The Penguins recalled rookie D Alex Goligoski from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL).