PITTSBURGH — Kevin Shattenkirk scored 3:13 into overtime and the Washington Capitals overcame a late collapse in regulation to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Monday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Washington drew within 2-1 in the series when Shattenkirk’s shot from the point zipped by Marc-Andre Fleury’s blocker. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins played most of the game without star Sidney Crosby, who left in the first period after taking a hit to the head from Capitals defenceman Matt Niskanen.
Washington appeared to be in control thanks to goals by Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetzov. The lead vanished in the final two minutes of the third when Evgeni Malkin and Justin Schultz scored in a 48-second span to force overtime.
The Capitals controlled the extra period and avoided a 3-0 hole against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Braden Holtby stopped 28 shots for Washington after getting pulled in his previous start. Fleury finished with 30 saves for Pittsburgh.
The Capitals held a team meeting following an ugly 6-2 loss in Game 2, a setback that dropped the Presidents’ Trophy winners into a 2-0 hole against their frequent playoff tormentors and stirred echoes of a series of playoff meltdowns since the franchise broke into the league 43 years ago.
Faced with being pushed to the brink of elimination, Washington pushed back. With one illegal and ugly shove changing the tenor of the series and perhaps the rest of the post-season.
The game was scoreless just over 5 minutes into the first period when Crosby skated just outside the Capitals’ crease. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin slashed Crosby along the upper body and Crosby slid awkwardly trying to maintain his balance when he collided with Niskanen, who had his stick raised.
The stick caught Crosby flush across the mouth and the two-time Hart Trophy winner laid on the ice in pain for several moments before slowly skating off the ice under his own power as Pittsburgh trainers searched the area for Crosby’s teeth.
Will Graves, The Associated Press