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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Capitals 3 OT

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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Pittsburgh completely flipped this series around with its third straight victory over the Washington Capitals. The Penguins, who trailed 0-2 early in the series, now have a 3-2 lead and will return to Mellon Arena, where the team is 4-1 this postseason, for Game 6 Monday night.  

The Penguins opened the third period with two goals to transform a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Washington countered with the game-tying goal with four minutes left in the third period. However, Pittsburgh wasn’t rattled. The team remained composed and furiously attacked the Washington net.

The Penguins struck gold – and maybe good fortune – when Evgeni Malkin’s attempted pass was re-directed off of a Capitals player and into the goal for the overtime winning tally. Though it was fluky, the goal was a reward for the Penguins’ hard work and relentless pressure.

This heavyweight bout is entering the final rounds. Pittsburgh has an incredible opportunity now ahead 3-2 in the series with Game 6 at home. The desperate Capitals will be fighting for their lives. The Penguins don’t want to return to Washington for Game 7 and will try to deliver a knockout blow Monday night.
(AP) -The Pittsburgh Penguins can say they have outplayed the Washington Capitals and had the perseverance to overcome a two-game deficit to take the series lead.

However, Sidney Crosby will be the first to admit that the Penguins are ahead because the puck was deflected into the net by a Capitals player in overtime. Twice.

Evgeni Malkin's pass to Crosby was broken up by sliding defenseman Tom Poti, who then helplessly watched the puck sail past goalie Simeon Varlamov 3:28 into overtime Saturday night, giving the Penguins a 4-3 victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Penguins mob Evgeni Malkin after he scored the overtime winning goal (photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Shots
The Penguins have been using Capitals goaltender Simeon Varlamov for target practice all series. Once again, they shot the puck early, late and often. Pittsburgh rung up 42 shots on the rookie netminder and their continuing persistence paid off with four goals and a Game 5 victory.

What Could Have Gone Better: Holding the Lead
The Penguins took a 3-2 lead at the 6:27 mark of the third period. The team desperately tried to maintain that lead for the remainder of the game but fell short when Alex Ovechkin tied the game late in the third period. However, the Penguins weren’t discouraged. They regrouped and responded by winning the game in overtime.
Evgeni Malkin made his presence felt every time he stepped on the ice in Game 5. With the Penguins trailing, 2-1, entering the third period, Malkin set up Ruslan Fedotenko’s game-tying goal. In overtime he blew through the Capitals defense and drew a tripping penalty. On the subsequent power play, Malkin barreled down the far side and cut to the net, scoring the overtime winner. He finished the game with two points (1G-1A), a plus-1 rating and recorded six shots.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jordan Staal, posted two points (1G-1A), plus-2 rating and four shots.
The Penguins, as they did the previous two games in Washington, tallied the first goal. Miroslav Satan had the puck below the goal line on the far side. He fed the puck to Jordan Staal in the bottom of the far circle. Staal one-timed a shot far side that sneaked under the arm of Capitals goalie Simeon Varlamov. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 0.

Washington tied the game just a minute after Pittsburgh scored the opening goal. Alex Oveckin carried the puck into the Penguins zone and ripped a shot from above the far circle that sailed past Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh 1, Washington 1.

The Capitals took the lead with a power-play goal with five minutes remaining in the second period. Nicklas Backstrom slipped the puck to Sergei Federov below the near goal line. Backstrom then skated to the slot and Federov threw the puck back to him. Backstrom one-timed a perfect shot into the top right corner. Washington 2, Pittsburgh 1.

The Penguins tied the game with a goal 51 seconds into the third period. Kris Letang made a great breakout pass to Evgeni Malkin through the neutral zone. Malkin gained the zone and dropped the puck to Ruslan Fedotenko above the far circle. The Ukraine native slapped a shot over the glove of Varlamov. Pittsburgh 2, Washington 2.

The Penguins regained the lead with a goal from gritty forward Matt Cooke. Tyler Kennedy whipped a shot on goal from the high slot. Staal pushed the rebound back on net and Varlamov made a sprawling save. But Cooke swooped in and sent a backhand shot over the outstretched goaltender and into the net from a bad angle. Pittsburgh 3, Washington 2.

The Capitals tied the game late in the third period on Ovechkin’s second goal of the game. Mike Green entered the Penguins zone and sent a pass to Backstrom in the high slot. Backstrom threw the puck to Ovechkin in the far circle. Ovechkin one-timed a shot into the netting for the score. Pittsburgh 3, Washington 3.

The Penguins took a 3-2 series lead on Malkin’s overtime power-play tally just three minutes into the extra frame. The power play was about to expire when Malkin carried the puck wide down the far side and cut towards the net. His attempted cross-ice pass hit the stick of Washington defenseman Tom Poti and trickled into the net. Pittsburgh 4, Washington 3.
The Penguins played the game without All-Star defenseman Sergei Gonchar. The other scratches were forwards Pascal Dupuis, Eric Godard and Petr Sykora. Pittsburgh dressed seven defensemen with the additions of Philippe Boucher and Alex Goligoski, who played his first career postseason game.

Super Star lines:
Sidney Crosby: -2, 21:58 minutes, 5 shots, 1 hit
Alex Ovechkin: 2G, 1A, +1, 24:04 minutes, 5 shots, 6 hits
Evgeni Malkin: 1G, 1A, +1, 22:59 minutes, 6 shots, 1 hit
Alexander Semin: 19:45 minutes, 1 shot
> Pittsburgh leads its second-round series with Washington, 3-2, and is 3-3 on the road in the postseason.

> Head coach Dan Bylsma has a career postseason record of 7-4.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, J.Staal (1), 5:17 2nd period: Penguins 1, Capitals 0
WSH, A.Ovechkin (9), 6:16 2nd period: Penguins 1, Capitals 1
WSH, N.Backstrom PP (3), 14:35 2nd period: Capitals 2, Penguins 1
PIT, R.Fedotenko (4), 0:51 3rd period: Penguins 2, Capitals 2
PIT, M.Cooke (1), 6:27 3rd period: Penguins 3, Capitals 2
WSH, A.Ovechkin (10), 15:52 3rd period: Penguins 3, Capitals 3
PIT, E.Malkin PP (6), 3:28 OT: Penguins 4, Capitals 3

> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s Art Ross champion, tallied a goal and an assist and has 14 points in the postseason (6G-8A).

> Sidney Crosby was scoreless but still has 16 total postseason points (9G-7A). Crosby has 10 points (7G-3A) in his last six games and has a point in nine of 11 playoff games.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves in the winning effort. He is 5-0 lifetime in overtime during the postseason.

> Ruslan Fedotenko chipped in a goal and a game-high 10 shots. He has six points (4G-2A) in his last six games.

> Jordan Staal posted a goal and an assist with a plus-2 rating.
1. E.Malkin, PIT
2. J.Staal, PIT
3. R.Fedotenko, PIT
"Against a team like that you want to put them away as soon as
possible. We don't want to let them stick around."
- Brooks Orpik


Author: Sam Kasan

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