PITTSBURGH -- Alex Ovechkin scored with 1:07 remaining in the third period to give the Washington Capitals a 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday.
Nicklas Backstrom carried the puck on a 2-on-1 before sliding a pass to Ovechkin, who tipped it off the right post. Ovechkin then batted the puck out of midair and past Matt Murray for his fifth goal during a four-game streak.
Washington has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series with Game 4 here Thursday.
"I hit the post, and it's a good thing I didn't raise my arms up. I finished up the play and got lucky," Ovechkin said. "It's a huge, huge goal. Obviously for our team, you know we want to win tonight and we did. It doesn't matter what, it doesn't matter who scored. We sacrifice, we play hard and we have to do the same moving forward."
[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Penguins highlights | Complete Capitals vs. Penguins series coverage]
Braden Holtby made 19 saves for his sixth win in seven starts this postseason.
"[The Penguins] had some extended zone time and they almost had some looks, and they were buzzing and they were making us defend," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "There are two good teams going at it right now and there wasn't much room. After two periods, there weren't a lot of shots. … Both teams were battling and pushing.
"This series is what it's going to be. It's going to be nose to nose, keep pushing for inches and working for inches. And it is a game of inches."
Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Murray gets piece of Ovechkin's shot
Murray made 18 saves. He is 5-4 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after going 27-9 in the previous two postseasons.
"I thought it was a pretty tight game for the most part," Murray said. "Not many shots either way, but every shot seemed to be a chance. It was just one of those kind of games where it could've gone either way. So obviously there's room to improve, but I think for the most part we played a pretty solid game."
After John Carlson gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 48 seconds into the second period, Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist scored 2:16 apart to put the Penguins ahead 2-1.
Guentzel tied it 1-1 at 4:33 of the second when he redirected Justin Schultz's shot. The goal was Guentzel's second of the series and eighth of the playoffs.
Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Hornqvist scores PPG from the doorstep
Hornqvist made it 2-1 on a power play at 6:49. Evgeni Malkin, who returned after missing three games with a lower-body injury, passed around Dmitry Orlov into the crease, where Hornqvist batted the puck into the net.
The Capitals killed 24 straight penalties before the goal.
Chandler Stephenson scored from the left circle on a one-timer at 11:04 of the second period to make it 2-2.
Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead at 16:27 of the second period. Guentzel stickhandled between Orlov's skates and passed to Crosby in the right circle.
"We played well. We didn't give them a lot," Crosby said. "We've got to make sure we stay out of the box and don't give them a chance on the power play. Other than that, we did some really good things, I thought. Every line was creating pressure and chances. It was just one of those nights where any little breakdown, they capitalized."
Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Niskanen blasts one-timer past Murray
Matt Niskanen tied it 3-3 at 5:06 when his slap shot bounced into the net off Murray's glove.
The Capitals outshot the Penguins 10-3 in the third period.
Goal of the game
Ovechkin's goal at 18:53 of the third period.
Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Ovechkin bats puck in to put Caps ahead
Save of the game
Holtby's save against Brian Dumoulin at 9:26 of the third period.
Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Holtby extends his pad to deny Dumoulin
Highlight of the game
Crosby's goal at 16:27 of the second period.
Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Guentzel finds Crosby after slick move
They said it
"It's a big win. It was tough sledding out there tonight. It was a physical game. We battled hard and showed a lot of character to come back in the third. ... The guys played really hard. We earned that one." -- Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen
"It's hard to win in the playoffs. No one knows it better than this team. We played a hard-fought game tonight. That game could've went either way. We have to make sure we put it behind us and we look to the next game and try to put our best game forward." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan
Need to know
The Capitals are 4-0 on the road in the playoffs. They are 2-3 at home. … Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese left at 9:47 of the second period after a hit from Capitals forward Tom Wilson. Sullivan said Aston-Reese has a broken jaw and a concussion, and will need surgery on his jaw. … Kris Letang's assist on Crosby's goal tied him with Larry Murphy for the most assists by a defenseman in Penguins playoff history (57).
Game 4 of Eastern Conference Second Round at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, SN)
Video: Capitals edge Penguins on Ovechkin's late goal
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