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Amazing: Sloppy Penguins Rebound to Stun Capitals, 5-4 (OT)



Pittsburgh Penguins game, Jake Guentzel, Tom Wilson Washington Capitals

Playing with just four defensemen in the third period and rallying from a pair of two-goal deficits in the second period, the Pittsburgh Penguins managed to steal a point from the Washington Capitals. For the second consecutive game, the Penguins and Washington needed more than 60 minutes.

Sidney Crosby (3) scored the game-winner 71 seconds into overtime, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat Washington 5-4 in OT on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena. Crosby had three points (1g, 2a).

Sometimes a hockey game doesn’t follow a logical script, which makes the game great. The Penguins were left for dead late in the second period. Down two goals, they yielded a two-man advantage when Jake Guentzel took a hooking penalty, then Chad Ruhwedel followed with a slashing call.

The two-goal deficit and being shorthanded by two later in the second period should have been the end of the Penguins’ night. Instead, it was the beginning of the hockey game.

“I thought we build momentum up in the second period and brought that into the third period,” Crosby said. “Five D is a chore, but four, I thought they did a really good job of managing that, and getting good clears.”

Down two goals and two men, Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith flung a dump in attempt 125 feet ahead to Teddy Blueger for a breakaway. Blueger (1) deked to the backhand and scored the 5v3 shorthanded goal.

“I was just trying to get it up the ice. Teddy was in the right place at the right time,” DeSmith smiled. “That worked out great, but it was very lucky. I’ll take it.”

Just 98 seconds later, the Penguins scored their second power-play goal of the game when Evgeni Malkin waited on a dribbling pass and drilled a top-shelf one-timer past Washington goalie Vitek Vanecek to tie the game, 4-4.

Midway through the second period, Washington forward T.J. Oshie nailed Marcus Pettersson with a high hit. Referees originally assessed Oshie a major penalty, but after review, it was reduced to a minor. However, Pettersson did not return.

Penguins defenseman Juuso Riikola was also absent for the third period, and the Penguins played the final 20 minutes with just two defensemen.

Head coach Mike Sullivan said both were being evaluated for an upper-body injury.

“We tried not to turn the puck over and let (the defensemen) get caught out there too long,” Crosby said. “We managed the puck really well. We were aggressive in our end and kill players early to not let them have zone time…”

The Penguins have not been a first-period team. And the Washington Capitals were nearly unchallenged for the first 20 minutes. Washington got the first six shots and three of the first four goals. In fact, Washington scored just six seconds after the Penguins tied the game, 1-1.

Yes, six seconds later.

Five minutes into the game, Penguins defenseman Juuso Riikola shoved a weak shot into the slot. Washington didn’t wait to transition against the helpless Penguins defensemen. Lars Eller (1) finished the play with a weakside wrister.

After nearly 10 minutes of sustained Washington pressure, the Washington goalie Vitek Vanecek gifted the Penguins a tie game. In his first game with the Penguins, Kasperi Kapanen made a favorable impression as he rushed end-to-end. Vanecek may have been lulled to sleep by the first period as he bobbled the long-range shot.

Vanecek dropped the shot, and Penguins winger Colton Sceviour (2) was able to poke it into the net.

The Penguins eased Kapanen into the flow. He played just 10:02 and mostly fourth-line minutes.

For a moment, it looked like the Penguins would find life. But that feeling lasted a moment literally. Before PA announcer extraordinaire Ryan Mill could announce the goal, Washington scored a go-ahead goal.

Off the subsequent faceoff, Tom Wilson (2) zipped a 30-foot wrist shot, which DeSmith misplayed off his shoulder. The shot hit DeSmith’s shoulder and fluttered into the net. Very quickly, the Penguins were again at a disadvantage.

Later in the first period, Wilson and the Penguins’ sloppiness each struck again. After a spotty line change and another turnover, Wilson (3) was unabated to the goal and redirected a pass through DeSmith’s five-hole for Washington’s first two-goal lead.

If there a bubble hockey “Boo” button, fans would have been mashing it.

Things appeared to get worse, too.

Early in the second period, the Penguins’ power play ranked 15th in the NHL and didn’t look that good as they appeared to waste a two-man advantage midway through the second period. Overpassing, poor shot selection, and wasted opportunities nearly exhausted the time. However, in the final seconds, Bryan Rust poked a quick pass across the slot to a waiting Jake Guentzel (1), who pounded it into the yawning cage.

Suddenly, the Penguins had life.

Until they didn’t. Again.

Less than three minutes after the Penguins lurched to within a goal, another turnover and more iffy backchecking bit the flightless birds. Former Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick and prospect Daniel Sprong spotted Evgeny Kuznetsov alone near the crease. Pass. Kuznetsov (1).

Washington led 4-2 and was poised for the kill until the Penguins flipped the script.

DeSmith was not sharp in the early part of the game, but he rallied to stop 21 of 25 shots in regulation. The Penguins did not allow a shot in the final five minutes of regulation. Vanecek was not as sparkling in his second game of the season. He allowed four goals on 27 shots.

After being outshot 11-5 in the first period, the Penguins outshot Washington 27-25 in regulation.

The Penguins host the New York Rangers and (trigger warning) Jack Johnson on Friday at PPG Paints Arena.