Alex Ovechkin scored the game-winner with 1:07 left to play on Tuesday as the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 to gain the upper hand in their NHL playoff series.
Ovechkin knocked his own rebound out of midair and past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray to lift the Capitals to a victory that gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round series against the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
With the win, Washington regained home-ice advantage against the team that has eliminated them in each of the past two seasons.
“This was a big win – it was tough sledding out there,” said Washington defenceman Matt Niskanen, who tied the game with a goal 5:06 into the third period after the Caps had trailed 2-1.
But the Penguins were infuriated by another high hit from Washington winger Tom Wilson – a shoulder-to-head hit in the second period that left Zach Aston-Reese with a broken jaw and a concussion although no penalty was called on the play.
Braden Holtby made 19 saves for his sixth win in seven starts this postseason.
After John Carlson gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 48 seconds into the second period, Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist scored less than three minutes apart to put the Penguins up 2-1.
Chandler Stephenson scored from the left face-off circle on a one-timer at 11:04 of the second period to make it 2-2.
Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead at 16:27 of the second period, and Niskanen tied it 3-3 when his slap shot bounced off Murray’s glove and that set the stage for Ovechkin.
“I hit the post, and it’s a good thing I didn’t raise my arms up,” Ovechkin said. “I finished up the play and got lucky.”
In Winnipeg, the Jets trailed 3-0 after the first period but scored four straight goals in the second – including three in less than three minutes – en route to a 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators.
Blake Wheeler scored the go-ahead goal for the Jets, who took a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference second-round series.