PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins (27-11-8) were left with a few questions to answer about their trajectory and standing after being winless in three games, including some clunkers against bad teams. A good rivalry game was the wake-up call the team needed as their effort and intensity increased significantly. The Penguins dominated the Washington Capitals (25-12-9) everywhere but the scoreboard.
The Penguins outshot Washington 35-17 through 40 minutes and increased that margin through most of the third period. The regulation tally was 45-29. Washington goalie Ilya Samsonov, who subbed for starter Vitek Vanecek midway through the first period, had to make countless sparkling saves to keep the game close.
Dmitry Orlov capitalized late in overtime, and Samsonov helped the Capitals steal a 4-3 OT win at PPG Paints Arena.
Correction: The first draft listed Alex Ovechkin as the goal scorer.
Samsonov stopped 43 of 45, total. Jarry stopped 26 of 29 in regulation and 28 of 32 overall.
The 45 shots were the most for the Penguins since a Dec. 17 win over the Buffalo Sabres (48). Call that game a Samsonov theft.
The rivalry snapped the Penguins out of their recent funk of disinterest. The Penguins had plenty of opportunities, especially in the second period with a 23-7 lopsided shot total, but the teams were square after the first and second periods.
Former Penguins winger Daniel Sprong’s penalty No. 1 created a pair of goals early in the first period.
The Penguins hop created a power play early in the first period, but the power play was a wash. A few seconds into the advantage, Penguins defenseman Kris Letang had one of those giveaways that dogged his younger self. Letang’s pressured blue line turnover created a 150-foot breakaway for Washington PK Nic Dowd (6), who slipped his backhand deke through goalie Tristan Jarry’s five-hole.
However, the Penguins quickly erased the damage of the shortie when Evgeni Malkin sneaked towards the net from the right-wing circle. From about 20 feet, Malkin (6) one-timed a pass from Crosby past Vanecek.
Vanecek left the game for concussion protocol a few minutes later after Kasperi Kapanen collided with him on a short breakaway chance. Kapanen attempted to stop but lost his footing. Samsonov replaced Vanecek.
Sprong penalty No. 2 later in gave the Penguins a lead.
With aggression and some ill-intent, the Penguins’ power play scored again midway through the first period. Evgeni Malkin didn’t get an assist but set up the play by holding the puck in the zone at the blue line. He was bowled over as he did it, but his pass was on the tape to Jake Guentzel in the corner.
Guentzel zipped a pass through sprawling defensemen to Sidney Crosby, who tapped the puck to Bryan Rust (13) in front of the net.
Rust scored a second power-play goal a few minutes into the second period. Crosby and Guentzel earned their second assists of the game by getting the pick to Rust on the far post. Rust (14) needed a couple of whacks but got it through Samsonov.
The Capitals seemingly tied the game midway through the second when Dowd deflected a point shot past Jarry. It looked good initially, but overhead replays showed that Dowd backed into Jarry before stepping out the crease, which impacted Jarry.
“Video review determined Nic Dowd had a significant presence in the crease which impaired goaltender Tristan Jarry’s ability to play his position,” read the statement from the NHL situation room.
Dowd and the Washington Capitals disagreed.
Washington tied the game later in the second period, as Sprong made a positive impact for the Capitals after the pair of costly penalties. Sprong walked Chad Ruhwedel at the defensive blue line and had a short breakaway chance. Sprong (8) swept the puck past Jarry, then collided headfirst into Capitals forward Tom Wilson.
Both were fine, though Ruhwedel’s ego may have been bruised.
Guentzel had three assists, and Crosby had two apples.
The Penguins muted Alex Ovechkin who had only a few shots in regulation until he sniped the top-shelf wrister over Jarry.