Alex Ovechkin knocked his own rebound out of midair and by Matt Murray with 1:07 remaining to lift the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night in Game 3 of their increasingly testy Eastern Conference semifinal series with Pittsburgh.
Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 2-1 series lead when he collected a pass from Nicklas Backstrom and fired a shot that ripped by Murray before hitting the right post.
Ovechkin stayed with it and his baseball-like swat gave him eight goals in the playoffs and the Capitals their fourth consecutive road win in the postseason.
Ovechkin has also scored in four consecutive playoff games this postseason.
Matt Niskanen, John Carlson and Chandler Stephenson also scored for Washington. Braden Holtby finished with 19 saves. Backstrom had three assists.
Jake Guentzel had a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist also scored, but the Penguins lost consecutive playoff games for only the fourth time since the start of their runs to consecutive Stanley Cups began in 2016.
Matt Murray made 18 stops but couldn’t get his glove — a problem area all postseason — on Ovechkin’s initial shot, allowing the Russian star to have a shot at the rebound.
Game 4 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
The game featured a significant uptick in physical play, a byproduct of the pressure and the fallout of the NHL’s decision not to discipline Washington’s Tom Wilson for his high hit in Game 2 on Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who went into the league’s concussion protocol after Wilson blindsided him while Dumoulin braced for a collision with a charging Ovechkin.
Dumoulin was back in the lineup to start Game 3 and both teams stressed the need to move forward considering so much is at stake. Wilson claimed the hit was “unavoidable” and “an unfortunate hockey play.”
Maybe, but the chippiness that has come to define a rivalry that’s equal parts heated and one-sided — the Penguins have won nine of 10 playoff meetings with Washington — ramped up in Game 3 with Wilson once again in the middle of it.
Guentzel and Hornqvist scored in a 2:16 span of the second period to take a 2-1 lead and the Penguins appeared to have momentum when Wilson made a run at Pittsburgh forward Zach Aston-Reese at the game’s midway point.
Aston-Reese was stickhandling near the Washington bench and had just let go of the puck when Wilson drilled him. The rookie was on the ice for several moments as play continued and ultimately threw his glove in frustration.
Wilson did not receive a penalty for the hit, one in which the initial point of contact was hard to discern. Was it the shoulders? The head? Either way the tenor changed considerably.
Stephenson tied the game shortly after the sequence and a crescendo of pushing, shoving and jawing followed.
Crosby put the Penguins back in front with 3:33 left in the second when he took a pretty pass from Guentzel — who occupied three Capitals before sliding the puck to his teammate — and buried it into an open net.
Niskanen, who spent four seasons in Pittsburgh before signing with Washington in the summer of 2014, blasted a one-timer by Murray 5:06 into the third to set up the finish.
Jets overcome three-goal deficit, beat Predators 7-4
Blake Wheeler scored on the power play with 4:59 to play and the Winnipeg Jets roared back from an early 3-0 deficit to defeat the Nashville Predators 7-4 on Tuesday night and grab a 2-1 lead in their second-round playoff series.
After missing on a number of earlier chances, the Jets captain connected on a rebound off Mark Scheifele’s shot from a tight angle for his second of the postseason.
Dustin Byfuglien had two goals and an assist for Winnipeg, while Paul Stastny added a goal and two assists.
Wheeler also had an assist and added the empty-netter with under a minute to play. Brandon Tanev also scored with Rinne on the bench in the game’s final minute.
Jacob Trouba scored a goal and set up another for a two-point night. Connor Hellebuyck made 26 stops.
Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban each had a goal and an assist for Nashville, while Mike Fisher and Austin Watson also scored.
Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Johansen both added two assists for the Predators, who got 38 stops from Pekka Rinne.
Game 4 is Thursday night in Winnipeg before things shift back to Nashville for Game 5 on Saturday.
Nashville blew a 3-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes to trail 4-3 through two periods, but tied it 4-4 at 7:40 of the third when Forsberg wheeled across the top of the slot on the power play to beat Hellebuyck upstairs with his fifth goal of the playoffs after Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine hit the post.
Trouba then turned the puck over at the offensive blue line to send Viktor Arvidsson in alone on a breakaway, but Hellebuyck was there with a big glove stop.
Winnipeg got its third man advantage of the third with 5:59 remaining when Subban went off for high sticking after failing to clear the puck twice late in a previous Jets power play before Wheeler scored the winner.
Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor missed on a breakaway that would have sealed it on another man advantage before Nick Bonino hit the post at the other end for Nashville.
Wheeler and Tanev sealed it into an empty net in the final minute.
Down 3-0 after a poor first period, Winnipeg roared out of the gate in the second to tie it during a frantic three-minute stretch.
Stastny got the comeback started at 2:38 when Trouba’s bouncing shot from the point struck his skate in front and ricocheted in off the crossbar and straight out.
The veteran center raised his arms in celebration, but play continued for a few seconds before officials blew the sequence dead to check if the puck crossed the line.
Wheeler then missed a wide-open net after a Rinne turnover before getting cleaned out by Watson along the boards.
Mark Scheifele came to Wheeler’s defense to nullify what would have been a Winnipeg power play, but the Jets made it 3-2 when Byfuglien blasted his second of the playoffs past Rinne at 5:11.
Then with the teams still playing 4-on-4, Trouba took a slick pass from Wheeler just 18 seconds later and the crowd erupted after his second of the postseason.
Winnipeg imposed its physical will as the period wore on, hitting Nashville’s defense at every opportunity, and the pressure finally paid off with 45 seconds remaining when Laine fed Byfuglien for his second of the game.
The big defenseman celebrated by removing a glove and dancing — a far cry from the playful punches he threw at teammates after Winnipeg tied Game 2 late in regulation.
The Jets opened the series with a 4-1 win in Nashville before the Predators picked up a 5-4 double overtime victory in Game 2.
The Predators silenced a deafening white-clad crowd just 4:53 in Tuesday when Fisher poked a loose puck over the goal line for his first of the playoffs after Hellebuyck couldn’t squeeze Ryan Hartman’s tip of an Ekholm shot from the sideboards.
Wheeler then took an offensive zone tripping penalty, and the Predators capitalized when Subban blasted his second of the playoffs, and second in as many games, through Hellebuyck’s legs at 10:06.
Watson made it 3-0 with 2:25 left when he took advantage of an awkward Winnipeg change and sniped a shot through the legs of Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey, under Hellebuyck’s glove and off the post for his fifth.
Fisher almost added to the misery late in the period, but his backhand hit the post behind Hellebuyck.