Ovi Strikes Late to Deliver Caps a 4-3 Win and 2-1 Series Lead

DcKQgb4WkAAw3MrPhoto: Capitals Twitter

Alex Ovechkin struck late to deliver a 4-3 win for the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Second Round Series, giving the Caps a 2-1 series lead. It was the Capitals’ ninth straight win on the road. The two teams return to action at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday at 7:00 PM. 

Matt Murray entered tonight with a 10-1 playoff record after a loss. His only previous back-to-back playoff losses came in Games 3 and 4 to the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final last season.

Center Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup for Pittsburgh after missing three games with a lower-body injury and defenseman Brian Doumolin returned after leaving Game 2 following a collision with Caps’ forward Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin. The Penguins won Game 1 by a 3-2 score, but the Capitals responded nicely with a 4-1 win in Game 2 on Saturday.

First Period

The first frame was scoreless for both teams.

The Capitals led 4-2 in takeaways and 18-17 in hits. Pittsburgh had two giveaways while Washington had one. The Caps went 0-for-2 on the power play and started the second period with 50 seconds of power play time.

The Penguins led 9-7 in shots and 6-3 in blocked shots. They won 61% of the faceoffs in the first period. Pittsburgh went 0-for-2 on the man advantage.

Second Period

John Carlson hammered a shot from the point after Nicklas Backstrom fed him with two seconds remaining on the power play.

Jake Guenztel tied it up with a deflection 4:33 in. Justin Schultz walked the line and Guenztel deflected it past Holtby for his league-leading 18th point of the playoffs. The goal tied the game at one.

Patric Hornqvist redirected Malkin’s shot from in the slot in the crease while being puppy-guarded by Dmitry Orlov in the blue point. The goal marked the first power play goals the Capitals have allowed in 25 power play opportunities. They haven’t allowed a power-play goal before Game 2 of the Columbus series before Hornqvist made it 2-1 Pittsburgh 6:49 into the middle frame. It also marked Pittsburgh’s second goal in 2:16.

Shortly after the goal, Tom Wilson laid a thunderous shoulder hit on forward Zach Aston-Reese in front the Capitals’ bench. Aston-Reese left the game with 10:13 left in the period and PPG Paints Arena erupted in loud, extended boos as replays showed Wilson make contact with Aston-Reese’s head. Penguins’ Coach Mike Sullivan reported after the game that Aston-Reese suffered a concussion and a broken jaw that will require surgery.

The Tribune-Review Sports twitter feed reported after the game that the pool reporter posted this regarding the Wilson hit: “Paul Devorski, NHL on-site supervisor Q: Why did on-ice officials meet for extended period of time after Tom Wilson’s hit on Zach Aston-Reese? A: When we have a big hit like that, and there’s a lot of stuff going on the ice, our guys come together—because obviously both referees didn’t put their arm up, so obviously they didn’t think there was a penalty. So now they bring in the linesmen, who if they think it’s a major penalty, they’ll tell the referees. So they all got together and they said, ‘You know what, we’ve got a good, clean check here.’”

Chandler Stephenson knotted the game at two, receiving a pass from behind the net with 8:56 left in the second. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom went all over Oleksiak and forced a turnover. Oshie got it and fed Stephenson in the slot and he wired it past Murray for a 2-2 game.

The momentum swung back to Pittsburgh with 6:45 left in the period when Alex Ovechkin was called for cross-checking Sidney Crosby in the corner and Tom Wilson and Jamie Oleksiak took offsetting penalties in the ensuing scrum. The Capitals killed the man-advantage after Matt Niskanen blocked one shot and then swept a puck out of the crease when a shot by Malkin trickled through Holtby.

The two teams went 4-on-4 at the 15:55 mark when Michal Kempny and Tom Kuhnhackl drew offsetting penalties. Pittsburgh has been the better team in the series 4-on-4, and Crosby buried a close-in pass from Jake Guentzel at the 16:27 mark to reclaim the lead for the Penguins.

The Capitals went on the power-play with 1:02 left in the period when Pittsburgh was called for too-many-men.

The Capitals led 5-4 in takeaways and only had two giveaways to the Penguins’ three.

Pittsburgh led 19-12 in shots (including 10-5 in the middle frame), 8-7 in blocked shots, and 34-31 in hits. The Penguins won 63% of the faceoffs through two.

Each team scored one goal on four power-play opportunities.

Third Period

Matt Niskanen tied it after taking a cross-ice feed from Dmitry Orlov 5:08 in. Niskanen’s shot bounced off of Murray’s blocker and into the net. The puck went to Orlov after Wilson won a board battle to get it to him. The game was tied at three.

Alex Ovechkin struck late with the game winner, potting a pass at the front of the net from Nicklas Backstrom. It was Backstrom’s 3rd assist of the night.

The Caps withstood a frantic last-minute charge by Pittsburgh to hang on for the win.

The teams finished the game even in shots at 22, though Washington outshot the Pens 10-3 in the third period. The teams were also even in blocked shots at 12. Both teams were 1 for 4 on the man-advantage, with each team racking up 10 minutes in penalties.

Pittsburgh dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 61% of the draws, and outhit the Caps by a remarkable 52 to 41.

The Capitals had the advantage in giveaways, making 4 to the Penguins’ 9, and in takeaways, stealing 7 pucks to Pittsburgh’s 6.

Braden Holtby made 19 saves on 22 shots. Matt Murray stopped 18 of 22 shots against.

Game 4 will be at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday at 7 on NBC Sports Network.

By Harrison Brown

Stay classy Pittsburgh. We’ll see you Thursday.

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About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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8 Responses to Ovi Strikes Late to Deliver Caps a 4-3 Win and 2-1 Series Lead

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

    Awesome game. Home ice is back!

    Like

  2. Anonymous says:

    What tacky fans.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Capitals–Penguins Game 3: A Look At The Numbers | NoVa Caps

  4. Pingback: Alex Ovechkin Rises to the Occasion in Enemy Territory | NoVa Caps

  5. Steve 46th says:

    Penguins fans react when they realize they paid to see Ovi beat their team.

    Like

  6. Pingback: Tom Wilson to Have Hearing for Hit on Zach Aston-Reese | NoVa Caps

  7. redLitYogi says:

    great goal by one of the greatest of all time. If he never gets another point in this playoff – and let’s hope he gets MANY more – Ovechkin has had one of the better playoffs any player’s had in a decade. As for the hit by Wilson – I think it’s simple: it’s a penalty if your stick hits the player in the head, however inadvertently. The same should be true of any contact to the head – the league needs to get head shots – intentional or accidental – out of the game for the good of the game. Then a player doesn’t suffer a concussion and a broken jaw. Wilson needs to play hockey now, not get goaded into looking for big hits. He was definitely head hunting on that play…

    Like

  8. Pingback: Mirrored Magic: The Capitals’ 2018 Postseason Performance Draws Some Parallels to Another Team’s Successful Playoff Run | NoVa Caps

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