Penguins Survive Overtime, Only to Fall in Shootout, 3-2
It looks like the Pittsburgh Penguins might never get the hang of this whole overtime thing.
But it’s not because they haven’t had enough practice at it.
They played beyond the third period for the third game in a row and the fourth time in the past five Thursday night. And for the third time in those four, they lost.
This time, they actually made it through the extra period unscathed, only to have Washington claim a 3-2 victory at Capital One Arena in a shootout.
The Penguins are 3-8 in games decided in overtime this season; they are 1-1 when they go to a shootout in 2022-23, but have lost nine of the past 13 that have gone beyond overtime.
The loss dropped the Penguins (24-15-9) one point behind Washington, which has the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff field.
Here’s how the shootout went:
Capitals — T.J. Oshie stopped.
Penguins — Rickard Rakell scored.
Capitals — Evgeny Kuznetsov scored.
Penguins — Sidney Crosby stopped.
Capitals — Nicklas Backstrom scored.
Penguins — Evgeni Malkin missed the net.
Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise that neither Crosby nor Malkin scored in the shootout. They have combined to score on just three of their past 18 shootout attempts.
With No. 1 goalie Tristan Jarry sidelined by an unspecified upper-body injury, Casey DeSmith made his second start in a row and stopped 43 of 45 shots during regulation and overtime before being beaten on two of three shots in the shootout.
Washington, which had scored on just one of 22 power plays in its previous nine games, got its first chance with the extra man when Penguins defenseman P.O Joseph hooked Conor Sheary at 4:26 of the opening period, and made the most of the opportunity.
Alex Ovechkin took a cross-ice feed from Evgeny Kuznetsov and beat DeSmith from just below the left dot at 6:00 to put the Capitals up, 1-0.
The Penguins clearly were intent on having a penalty-killer hover near Ovechkin anytime Washington had a man-advantage, but Ryan Poehling had wandered away from him, distracted by Sheary being unchecked near the Penguins’ net.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had scored on their final three power plays in a 7-6 overtime victory against Florida Tuesday, and had a chance to tie the game when Garnet Hathaway was penalized for boarding Jake Guentzel at 14:36.
However, they failed to generate a shot on Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper during those two minutes. Washington, meanwhile, launched three shots at DeSmith while killing the penalty and had all of the serious scoring chances while Hathaway was in the box.
Teddy Blueger was called for closing his hand on the puck off a faceoff at 17:56, but the Penguins prevented the Capitals from scoring and limited them to three shots before Blueger returned.
Washington accounted for 21 of the 28 shots recorded during the first 20 minutes. (The off-ice officials first had the Capitals’ total at 22, then 23 before settling on 21.)
Danton Heinen, who scored his first goal in 35 games Tuesday, got his second of the week at 2:37 of the second. He swatted in a loose puck after a Drew O’Connor shot hit the right post, then caromed off Kuemper’s back before dropping into the crease.
Brian Dumoulin received the second assist on that goal, Heinen’s fifth.
Nearly as important as getting the tying goal was that the Penguins tightened their team defense considerably during that period, holding Washington to 12 shots (still a pretty hefty total) while registering 18 of their own.
The Capitals went back in front at 5:17 of the third, when Marcus Johansson put a shot over DeSmith’s glove from above the left circle. The puck appeared to glance off the stick of Penguins forward Brock McGinn when Johansson released it, slightly altering the shot’s trajectory.
McGinn also was held without a point for the 15th game in a row, tying the longest drought of his career.
Nonetheless, Bryan Rust tied the game again and forced overtime at 12:52, beating Kuemper over the glove from above the right dot for his 11th goal of the season and 300th point in the NHL.
Assists went to Guentzel and Sidney Crosby, who extended his scoring streak to six games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have called off the practice scheduled for Friday at noon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. They will face San Jose Saturday at 7:08 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena in their final game before their bye week and the NHL’s all-star break next weekend.