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Ailing Letang Becomes Overtime Hero

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang left Game 2 Monday late in the third period in obvious pain. The injury made his participation in Wednesday’s Game 3 showdown at Mellon Arena a game-time decision. In the end, Letang played and the Penguins are sure glad he did.

The 22-year-old blueliner scored the game-winning overtime goal, his first career postseason tally, to lift the Penguins over the Washington Capitals, 3-2, and helped Pittsburgh avoid falling into a three-game hole.

“It felt great,” said Letang, who also had an assist in the game. “It’s a great win for the team. The team played great. I think we stuck to the system. We played our way and I think we outshot them and we were playing a really good game.

“We’re getting back in the series. We don’t think we were playing bad but we can get to another level and tonight we showed that we can play at another level and that’s what we did.”

Not a bad way to end the night for a young player that wasn’t sure he would even have the strength to be in the lineup.

“It was a medical miracle I think,” defenseman Brooks Orpik joked. “Either he was really playing the injury up or he’s just a really quick recoverer.”

“We felt confident yesterday that Kris’ strength would return significantly,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “After Game 2 it was more of a scare than anything. Once we cleared up that it wasn’t a serious injury we were confident that it would get even better in the morning and that was the case. He got himself back in there. Not only did he get the game-winner, but he had several chances there on the power play.”

Letang’s goal wasn’t pretty but it was potent. Sidney Crosby won a crucial faceoff in the Capitals zone and pushed the puck to Mark Eaton at the far boards. Eaton fed the puck to Letang at the far point. Letang ripped a one-timer that deflected off of Washington defenseman Shaone Morrisonn and behind goalie Simeon Varlamov.

“It was a great faceoff win by Sidney Crobsy and it was a good faceoff play with Eaton,” Letang said. “I just tried to put it on net and see what happened and it ended up being a goal.”

“At that point in the game, we talked about Varlamov and he’s been really good all series," Orpik said. "We were just trying to get things on net and I think we got a little but lucky there. We got something up front and we beat him there but if you don’t take the shot, it never goes in so that’s the bottom line there.”

“I missed a lot of chances on the power play and at the end I thought the more you shoot the more you get chances,” Letang said. “So at the end I kept shooting and it ended up being a good thing.”

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