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|Pittsburgh put together one of its finest 60-minute performances of the postseason but it wasn’t enough to claim victory in regulation. The Penguins were staring down the barrel of trailing 0-3 in the series against the Washington Capitals as Game 3 shifted into sudden death overtime. |
But as the Penguins have done many times before this season, the team rose to the occasion and answered the call. Pittsburgh’s dominant performance carried over into overtime and Kris Letang, whose status was uncertain until game time due to an injury, buried a puck behind Capitals goaltender Simeon Varlamov to lift Pittsburgh over Washington.
The Penguins will enjoy the win tonight but they know that there is a lot of work left to do. The team will turn its attention to Game 4 and attempt to even the series.
|WHAT HAPPENED |
|(AP) - The Pittsburgh Penguins finally solved Simeon Varlamov, finally controlled Alex Ovechkin for most of a game and got the victory they needed to get back into their playoff series against the Washington Capitals. |
Kris Letang scored his first career playoff goal on a shot from the point after Sidney Crosby's faceoff win in overtime and the Penguins avoided going down three games to the Capitals, winning 3-2 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night.
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT |
Evgeni Malkin was named the No. 1 star for Game 3 (photo by Getty)
|What Worked Well: Dominance |
The Penguins could not have been more dominant in the contest. They outshot (42-23), out-chanced, out-possessed, outhit (44-31) and had the edge over the Capitals the entire game. The Penguins spent nearly the entire second period in Washington’s zone (outshooting them 15-4 in the frame). Pittsburgh could not have put on a better all-around performance, except….
What Could Have Gone Better: Goal Scoring
For all the chances and dominant play, Pittsburgh only mustered two goals in regulation. Washington netminder Simeon Varlamov deserves a lot of credit for his phenomenal play. But the Penguins kept pressuring and pressuring and were eventually rewarded for their efforts. When it was over, Pittsburgh scored more goals than Washington and at the end of the day that’s the only stat that matters.
|Evgeni Malkin put on an Oscar-worthy performance, skating hard, dangling the puck on his stick as he maneuvered through the Capitals and was a force every time he stepped on the ice. |
Malkin scored a clutch power-play goal late in the third period for the Penguins. He also had game-highs in shots (9) and minutes (29:38), a plus-1 rating and two hits.
|SCORING SYNOPSIS |
|The Capitals got on the scoreboard first with a fluky goal. Washington dumped the puck around the boards and into the Penguins zone. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury tried to play the puck behind his net but dropped his stick. The puck hit his stick and caromed into the slot. Alex Ovechkin was there to slam the puck past a diving Rob Scuderi and Fleury for the opening tally. Washington 1, Pittsburgh 0. |
The Penguins tied the game with a score halfway through the second period. Maxime Talbot won a battle for the puck in the Pittsburgh zone and chipped it ahead to Ruslan Fedotenko. Talbot then jumped up on the play to create a two-on-one for the Penguins. Fedotenko attempted a crossing pass and goalie Simeon Varlamov slid across. However, the pass was blocked by Washington’s Milan Jurcina and went back to Fedotenko, who deposited the puck into the empty net. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 1.
Art Ross champion Evgeni Malkin came through for the Penguins with a clutch power-play goal late in the third period. He drew the penalty with some great stick handling work. Then with the man-advantage he pulled the puck around a Capital and into the high slot before ripping a shot into the top right corner. Credit goes to Bill Guerin for a phenomenal screen in front of Varlamov. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 1.
The Capitals pulled even with their own power-play score with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. Alexander Semin threw the puck on net from the near corner. Nicklas Backstrom collected the rebound to the right of the cage and threw the puck off of Fleury’s back and into the goal. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 2.
The Penguins won the game on Kris Letang's overtime tally. Sidney Crosby won a key faceoff in the Capitals zone and the Penguins worked the puck to Letang at the far point. Letang's shot was deflected in front of the net and eluded Varlamov to give Pittsburgh the victory. Pittsburgh 3, Washington 2.
|INTRIGUING NOTABLES |
|The Penguins switched up their personnel for Game 3, inserting Miroslav Satan into the lineup in place of Petr Sykora. |
Super Star lines:
Sidney Crosby: 2A, +1, 28:32 minutes, 3 shots, 2 hits
Alex Ovechkin: 1G, 1A, +1, 23:44 minutes, 5 shots, 7 hits
Evgeni Malkin: 1G, +1, 29:38 minutes, 9 shots, 2 hits
Alexander Semin: 1A, -1, 20:01 minutes, 2 shots
|GAME NOTES |
|> Pittsburgh trails its second-round series with Washington, 2-1, and is 3-1 at Mellon Arena in the postseason. |
> Head coach Dan Bylsma has a career postseason record of 5-4.
> Scoring Summary:
WSH, A.Ovechkin (8), 1:23 1st period: Capitals 1, Penguins 0
PIT, R.Fedotenko (2), 9:29 2nd period: Penguins 1, Capitals 1
PIT, E.Malkin PP (5), 15:01 3rd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 1
WSH, N.Backstrom (1), 18:10 3rd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 2
PIT, K.Letang (1), 11:23 1st OT: Penguins 3, Capitals 2
> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s Art Ross champion, notched a goal and has 12 points in the postseason (5G-7A).
> Sidney Crosby recorded two assists in the game to give him 14 total postseason points (8G-6A), the most in the NHL. Crosby has eight points (6G-2A) in his last four games and has a point in eight of nine playoff games.
> Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves in the winning effort.
> Kris Letang scored his first career postseason goal, which was also the overtime game-winner.
> Ruslan Fedotenko chipped in his second goal of the postseason. He has three points (2G-1A) in his last four games.
> Mellon Arena sold out for the 111th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132. The Penguins have sold out every game in the past two seasons. Pittsburgh is 72-30-9 in during that span.
|THREE STARS ||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT |
| || |
|1. E.Malkin, PIT |
2. K.Letang, PIT
3. S.Varlamov, WSH
|"It was desperation for us. We battled hard and it would have |
been easy to get frustrated with the chances that we had
not going in, but we stuck with things. We believed that
we were actually going to get that break, and we did."
- Sidney Crosby