Final score: Washington Capitals 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 2
How it happened: This game had a little bit of everything. Karl Alzner made his return to the lineup and it was a good thing he did. Matt Niskanen was ejected just over five minutes into the game after delivering a hit to the head of Sidney Crosby. It looked as if the Penguins' superstar lost his balance as Niskanen was delivering the hit which resulted in the high hit. Crosby did not return.
After the Caps killed off the five-minute major power play, they were able to strike first on a two-man advantage power play as Nicklas Backstrom banked a shot off of Marc-Andre Fleury and Ian Cole. Both teams were held scoreless in the second period, but Evgeny Kuznetsov was able to add an insurance tally on an odd-man rush in the third period. Then disaster struck. The Penguins were able to score twice with less than two minutes remaining with the goalie pulled to tie the game and force overtime. After Marcus Johansson forced a penalty, however, Kevin Shattenkirk scored his first goal of the postseason to give the Caps the win.
What it means: The Capitals finally managed to take one from the Penguins and now trail the series 2-1. They are still in a tough position, however, as they must still win Game 4 in Pittsburgh to avoid a 3-1 hole and bring the series back to Washington tied at 2. Still, the Caps have at least avoided the possibility of a sweep and guaranteed a return trip to Washington for Game 5.
Caps goal: Nicklas Backstrom (power play) from Alex Ovechkin and Justin Williams. With a 5-on-3 power play, Backstrom held the puck on the red line to the left of the net. He fired a shot into the crease that bounced off the stick of Marc-Andre Fleury and leg of Ian Cole into the net. Caps 1, Penguins 0
Caps goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams at 9:46 in the 3rd. Trevor Daley could not corral a puck at the Caps' blue line and it bounced over his stick leading to an odd-man rush. Williams backhanded a pass to Johansson who went in on net before passing at the last moment to Kuznetsov. Fleury sold out to stretch the pad leaving the top of the net open for Kuznetsov to bury. Caps 2, Penguins 0
Penguins goal: Evgeni Malkin from Justin Schultz and Phil Kessel at 18:07 in the 3rd. The Penguins passed around the perimeter until Malkin found some room and fired a one-timer that beat Holtby. Caps 2, Penguins 1
Penguins goal: Justin Schultz from Evgeni Malkin at 18:55 in the 3rd. A point shot from Schultz deflected off the stick of T.J. Oshie bouncing its way into the net for the late, game-tying goal. Caps 2, Penguins 2
Caps goal: Kevin Shattenkirk (power play) from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom at 3:13 into overtime. Caps 3, Penguins 2
3 Caps stars
1. Kevin Shattenkirk: He has had a rough postseason so far, but he won the game with his overtime tally to give the Caps a glimmer of hope for the series.
2. Braden Holtby: There was a lot of talk over who should start this game after Holtby was pulled in Game 2. Barry Trotz, however, put his faith in Holtby and his faith was rewarded as Holtby had his best game of the series.
3. Daniel Winnik: Remember that series-defining save Tom Wilson made off the goal line against Toronto? Winnik made a similar play in the first period. A shot from Nick Bonino got past Holtby and hit off the post sitting in the crease. Bryan Rust got a whack at it, but Winnik blocked the shot with the shaft of his stick to save the goal.
Look ahead: The series remains in Pittsburgh for Game 4 on Wednesday. Game 5, made necessary by Monday's win, will be in Washington on Saturday.
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