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COLUMBUS Rasmus Ristolainen Jersey , Ohio — The Washington Capitals played their way right back into their first-round playoff series with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it took a lot of extra effort to do so.
The Capitals’ 3-2 victory on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena on a goal by Lars Eller at 8:09 of the second overtime narrowed their deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference engagement.
With Game 4 scheduled for Thursday night at Nationwide, the Capitals find themselves with an opportunity to get even and regain home-ice advantage before the series heads back to Washington on Saturday. That scenario is certainly better than being down 3-0 and facing elimination on the opponents’ home ice.
No team in NHL history had lost the first three games of a playoff series in overtime.
“When you’re down 2-0, it’s almost like two do-or-die games,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. “If you don’t win the do-or-die Game 3, you’re probably up against the wall. We kind of looked at it as a do-or-die, must win — and we got the win. So now we can look to the next one.”
Eller’s goal — his first in the playoffs — ended a stellar goaltending duel between Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky and Washington’s Braden Holtby before a record crowd.
“It’s going to be a battle again in Game 4,” Eller said. “But it’s very fair we have one win after these three games. It’s been close every game.
“We don’t look far (ahead). All we talk about is the next shift, next period, small adjustments. We don’t look very far ahead. You’ve got to keep your eye on the ball, and on the next shift. That’s the mentality.”
Extra periods have become a habit for the Capitals, not only in this series but in the playoffs in general. The double-overtime affair was the 13th multiple-goal game in franchise history, and Washington has a 4-9 record in those.
Last year, the Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs played five overtime games in the first round before Washington came back from a 2-1 deficit to prevailed in six.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz surely would like to break the overtime habit, but Tuesday’s result was certainly better than the first two outcomes.
“We just want to win. If it takes eight periods Andrew Ladd Jersey , we just want to win,” he said. “We won one game today. We didn’t get what we wanted at home, and so our focus has to be on one game.
“To get fat and happy after a win … we’re still in a hole. We need a lot of desperation, we need a lot of commitment, we need a lot of focus. We need to get this tied up. That’s our only focus right now.”
The Blue Jackets still lead the series, but they’ve barely led in any of the first three games. They’ve faced deficits in each and rallied to win the first two before the puck finally failed to bounce their way in Game 3.
“This is what playoff hockey is,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “It’s not always going to go your way. But we’ve put ourselves in a real good spot by going in there (in Washington) and stealing two. They’re, I’m sure, fully planning on doing that to us. But we’re going to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
One thing the Blue Jackets want to avoid is penalties, which the Capitals’ potent power play has taken advantage of in each game. On Tuesday, a five-on-three at the end of the second period led to a go-ahead goal by Washington’s John Carlson.
The Blue Jackets came back to tie in the third period on a goal by forward Artemi Panarin.
“I think we’re comfortable in that (trailing),” Blue Jackets John Tortorella said. “We don’t want to be there, but I don’t think it affects how we play. Sometimes it’s tougher to have the lead. I felt in that third period, (the Capitals) were on their heels, in trying to protect that lead.”
Could there be a fourth overtime game in the offing?
“We just go forward Authentic Benoit Pouliot Jersey , trying not to be (disappointed), just keep working, just keep playing,” Panarin said. “Anything can happen.”
After the Capitals scored early, the Penguins scored often to stun their rivals with yet another comeback.
Patric Hornqvist, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel scored in a 4:49 span to help Pittsburgh erase a two-goal deficit in the third period and the Penguins beat Washington 3-2 on Thursday night in Game 1 of the second-round series.
Showing no panic from allowing a goal to Evgeny Kuznetsov 17 seconds into the game and another to Alex Ovechkin 28 seconds into the third period, the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champions took another series lead in typical Penguins fashion.
Playing without injured forwards Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin, Pittsburgh naturally fed off Crosby, who had a goal and an assist.
”Right from Sid, he led the way for us and it’s right down the lineup,” said Guentzel, who had a goal and two assists and leads the playoffs with 16 points. ”You can’t get down. There’s going to be highs and lows throughout the whole series. You’ve got to stick with it to the end and we were happy to get three and end up winning the game.”
Matt Murray stopped 32 of 34 shots, keeping the Penguins in the game and maintaining the lead late with a sprawling stick save on Brett Connolly with 2:30 left. Unsure of what would happen at the other end of the rink with Braden Holtby dialed in, Murray could only keep the puck out as much as possible after allowing the early-period goals to Kuznetsov and Ovechkin.
Murray denied Michal Kempny from point-blank range and kept the puck out from a hard-charging Devante Smith-Pelly early and missed no opportunity to give the Penguins the impressive stop when they needed it.
”I thought he was locked in all night long,” coach Mike Sullivan said. ”He made some big saves for us Patrick Maroon Jersey , especially when they were pressing down the stretch there. … When you get those types of saves, it’s easy to play with some confidence in front of him.”
Murray couldn’t predict a furious comeback, but he wasn’t shocked, either. Not after Pittsburgh has won nine consecutive playoff series dating to 2016, including two against these Capitals.
”There’s going to be good things that happen out there and there’s going to be bad things that happen out there,” Murray said. ”It’s about how you respond. We did a good job of that.”
The Capitals gave the Penguins a couple of solid punches in the series opener but didn’t respond well when some bounces went against them early in the third. A deflection goal by Hornqvist, a puck that went off Ovechkin’s stick to Crosby and then a redirection by Guentzel took the air out of the building and ruined a strong start by Holtby.
”Obviously, some things we’d like to work on,” said Holtby, who stopped all 17 shots through two periods before allowing three on eight in the third. ”Same time, their goals they scored, they were kind of strange plays, especially the last one. It was one of those that’s just a weird bounce.”
Washington blew a two-goal lead for the fourth time in seven games in these playoffs, but players felt they handled this better than situations in the first round against Columbus.
”Those three shifts, they score http://www.officialstarsproonline.com/authentic-adidas-brett-ritchie-jersey ,” said Kuznetsov, whose goal was the second-fastest in Capitals playoff history. ”I feel like they got momentum, and then they score again and again.”
As even as the play was, a handful of mistakes were enough to put the Penguins up going into Game 2 Sunday afternoon. Sullivan already sees opportunities to cut down on chances against, and his players think they can be better as the series goes on.
”It’s one game, we did some good things,” Crosby said. ”I think in any playoff series, it’s just about getting better with every game.”
NOTES: The Capitals have killed 18 consecutive penalties dating to Game 2 against Columbus. .., Malkin skated Thursday morning with teammates, while Hagelin did not make the trip. Malkin could be an option for Game 2 if his apparent leg injury has healed enough.