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 seeing T.J. Oshie's hat-trick​ during Game 1 of the Caps' second round playoff series against Pittsburgh in 2016. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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7 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

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