WASHINGTON — The Pittsburgh Penguins benefitted from a deflected goal in overtime to beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, riding their luck to take a 3-2 series lead in their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series.
It was the second time in the series that Pittsburgh had got a deflected goal in overtime to win a game. The winner in Game 3 notched the Penguins first win of the series, and now they're a win away from the Eastern Conference final.
Evgeni Malkin's pass to Pittsburgh teammate Sidney Crosby was broken up by sliding Washington defenseman Tom Poti, who then helplessly watched the puck sail past goalie Simeon Varlamov 3:28 into overtime.
"These games come down to mistakes and bounces," Crosby said. "And we got a good bounce there on the last goal."
The Penguins overcame a third-period deficit and survived Alex Ovechkin's tying goal late in regulation before winning on Malkin's power-play tally, which came with one second remaining in the advantage.
"It's always hard when you play in overtime and you allow a silly goal like this," Varlamov said through an interpreter. "That's twice now. ... But winners make their own luck."
Jordan Staal, Ruslan Fedotenko and Matt Cooke also scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves for the Penguins.
Since 1991, Washington has lost five series in which it blew a lead against Pittsburgh, including 2-0 advantages in 1992 and 1996. Maybe it was those ghosts that caused David Steckel to blow an easy chance 19 seconds into overtime.
"First shift, Stecks missed an empty net," Ovechkin said. "I said, 'Where is our luck?' The puck was bouncing, and next they got a power play and scored a goal."
The Penguins became the first road team to win in the series, and the first to win after scoring first.
"We've been in this position before," said Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, referring to the Capitals' rally from 3-1 down to beat the New York Rangers in the first round. "It's a tough hill to climb, but you've just got to think of it as one game."
Ovechkin got his ninth and 10th goals of the playoffs, and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals. Varlamov made 38 saves, rebounding from his first poor game of the playoffs.
Blackhawks 4, Canucks 2
Martin Havlat added an empty-net goal with 62 seconds left. The ending was delayed as disappointed Canucks fans littered the ice with drinks and popcorn.
The Blackhawks trailed 2-1 midway through the second period, but rallied to win for the third time in the series. Chicago can advance to the Western Conference finals at home with a Game 6 win on Monday.
Vancouver would host Game 7 if necessary.
Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell set up a pair of goals by Dustin Byfuglien, including the tying tally during a power play with 1:38 left in the second period.
Mats Sundin had a goal and an assist, and Ryan Kesler also scored for Vancouver.
Nikolai Khabibulin made 19 saves for Chicago, getting a break when Kyle Wellwood hit the post midway through the third period, but also getting a blocker on Kesler s short-handed 2-on-1 chance with seven minutes left.
After Chicago won a tactical match in Game 4, the teams played a faster-paced, highly physical game Saturday with plenty of big hits and scrums after the whistle.
Chicago opened the scoring for the first time in the series with 4:33 left in the first period, as Byfuglien got to a rebound and shot off Robert Luongo's right pad.
Kesler tied it on a lucky power-play bounce with 2:06 left.
Sundin gave Vancouver the lead shortly after they killed a power play midway through the second. He beat Khabibulin cleanly with a slap shot from the top of the left circle.
Byfuglien tied it again after Vancouver was whistled for an extra penalty during a post-whistle scrum.