This was probably not the way the Pittsburgh Penguins drew it up on Tuesday night. But thanks to Sidney Crosby‘s goal in the first minute of overtime they were able to defeat the Washington Capitals, 5-4, in a wild back-and-forth game to complete a two-game sweep of their division rivals.
They have to be ecstatic with the result. But the process in getting there was quite an adventure.
They had to overcome a terrible first period, two different two-goal deficits (3-1 and 4-2), and played the final 22 minutes of the game with only four defensemen after Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola exited with injuries.
In the middle of all of that they scored a 5-on-3 power play goal (Jake Guentzel), a 3-on-5 shorthanded goal (from Teddy Blueger), and a traditional power play goal (Evgeni Malkin) to tie the game and set the stage for Crosby’s winner in overtime. As if that wasn’t enough they also needed starting goalie Casey DeSmith to stop a 3-on-0 rush from the Capitals following a turnover in the offensive zone.
In short, this game had a little bit of everything.
The turning point in the game though was definitely Blueger’s shorthanded goal late in the second period. At that point the Penguins were already trailing by a pair of goals and had just handed the Capitals power play an extended two-man advantage. A Capitals goal there would have probably been enough to put the game out of reach.
Instead, DeSmith made an incredible outlet pass to spring Blueger on a breakaway where he beat Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek to bring the Penguins to within one goal.
Just a few minutes later Malkin scored his first goal of the season on the power play to tie the game. It was a huge goal for Malkin not only because of what it meant on the scoreboard, but also because he had been mostly invisible this season until that shot.
That power play was the result of an interference penalty on Washington’s T.J. Oshie for a late, blindside hit on Pettersson that knocked the Penguins defender from the game. It was initially ruled a five-minute major, but reduced to a two-minute minor after review.
The Penguins have yet to put together a complete game this season, and they still have some issues to work out defensively (and in goal) but sweeping these two games against the Capitals is a significant bounce back after losing their first two games in Philadelphia.
The Capitals meanwhile completed their season-opening four-game road trip by collecting six out of a possible eight points and will return home to play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.