It was an afternoon filled with all the drama, scoring and animosity expected between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. But although the Capitals managed to obtain a point in a heated contest with their rivals, the mood in the visitors' dressing room was far from content.
Washington erased an early two-goal deficit, snatched a lead early in the third period and benefited from Alex Ovechkin's first three-point game of the season, but would fall 4-3 in overtime to the Penguins at Consol Energy Center. Evgeni Malkin, the NHL's leading scorer, recorded the game-winner 1:31 into the extra session to extend his goal-scoring streak to six games.
The Capitals (25-19-3) return home having gone 1-1-1 on their three-game road trip with one more game left before the NHL All-Star break. An overtime loss to the Penguins (27-17-4) wasn't the way they wanted to close out the trip, but it showed how doggedly the Capitals can play when they're fully engaged in a contest.
"We hung in and we battled back — I think that's a big point," defenseman Dennis Wideman said. "There's been times in the last little while here that we've been a little unemotional. I think when we're going that hard and playing that way we're a lot better team, a lot harder to handle that's good. We need to play like that every night."
Less than six minutes into the contest, the Penguins leaped to a two-goal lead.
On the first power play, Kris Letang fired a point shot that beat a screened Michal Neuvirth (23 saves) to make it 1-0 nearly five minutes into the game.
Sixty-one seconds later, James Neal fired a wrister off a faceoff win by Malkin against Matt Hendricks to make it 2-0.
Early in the second, however, the Capitals ratcheted up their physical play, led by Ovechkin, who began to hit anyone in a black-and-gold jersey.
The Capitals got onto the board 11:02 into the second when Wideman fed Brooks Laich in front during four-on-four play. Pittsburgh forward Pascal Dupuis' stick broke earlier on the play and Laich made the most of the available space on top of the crease to record his first goal in 14 games. With 14:38 gone in the middle period, Alexander Semin tied the contest at 2 on an odd man-rush. Suddenly, the Capitals were the dominant force.
Ovechkin scored on a long one-timer just 68 seconds into the third period to give the Capitals their first lead of the contest at 3-2, but it wouldn't last.
Just more than seven minutes into the third, Malkin drove the puck into the zone and fought off the Capitals to set up Neal for his second goal of the game to make it 3-3. Pittsburgh continued to push and outshot the Capitals 12-6 in the period but would need overtime.
The Capitals had been able to keep track of Malkin much of the contest, but when a point shot by Neal bounced off the end boards and caromed to the right post he was all alone. Malkin only had a split second before Neuvirth would have been able to stop the puck, but that was all Malkin needed to chip it into the net.