Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round in Washington may not have been the best-played game of the postseason but it had the drama of an overtime and a hat trick and who does not love that?
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals
Sixty minutes was not enough to find a winner between the clubs so it was off to overtime where Washington’s TJ Oshie completed his hat trick 9:33 into the extra session with a wrap-around goal to give his team a 4-3 win over the Penguins. With the win, the Capitals took a 1-0 lead in the series.
“I thought Osh (Oshie) right from the get-go had sort of a good jump in his game,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said in describing Oshie’s night. “The puck was following him and when the puck is following you, usually good things happen. I thought he scored a huge goal for us in the middle frame there when they (Pittsburgh) got the two quick goals. We needed a quick response and that’s what our team does. There isn’t any panic on our bench. There’s no nervousness or anything like that. We just said, ‘Hey, let’s get this turned around, let’s go’ and I thought that was a real huge goal for us.”
Oshie’s third goal of the evening went to video review to ensure the puck had completely crossed the goal line. The call on the ice was upheld by the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department in Toronto and the game was over.
“The wait seemed pretty long,” Oshie said when asked about the video review. “I thought I saw it (puck) all the way across (the goal line). I don’t know if it did or not. I put my hands up and looked at the ref and he marked it a goal so that kind of reassured me but it was a close one.”
Washington’s Andre Burakovsky opened the scoring 10:13 into the first period with assists going to Jason Chimera and John Carlson. It would be the only lamplighter of the period. The Capitals outshot the Penguins 15-9.
The second period saw the tables turned with Pittsburgh unleashing 17 shots at Washington goaltender Braden Holtby while at the other end, the Caps sent seven shots at Penguins goaltender Matt Murray.
Pittsburgh scored twice in the frame.
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy tied the game at 10:40 assisted by Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin.
Fifty-seven seconds after Lovejoy put the Penguins on the scoreboard, Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead with his third of the playoffs. Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang garnered the assists.
The Penguins looked ready to take control of the game but Oshie struck for his first of the night only 33 seconds after Malkin’s goal to tie the score at 2-2.
The score remained tied after 40 minutes of play.
Oshie put Washington into the driver’s seat 3:23 into the third period with his second of the game assisted by Alex Ovechkin.
However, Bonino put the puck past Holtby at 8:42 of the period for the third tie of the night, 3-3. Hagelin and Phil Kessel were credited with the assists.
The rest of the period belonged to the goaltenders. Pittsburgh sent 13 shots at Holtby. Washington finished the period with five shots.
The fourth period of the night saw up and down action. Holtby stopped six shots and Murray stopped seven before Oshie’s heroics ended the contest.
With the win, Washington improved to 8-1 in the opening game in nine all-time playoff series versus Pittsburgh.
Holtby (42 saves) earned his 21st career playoff win passing Olaf Kolzig (20 wins) for most by a goaltender in Capitals history.
Game 2 of the series is scheduled for Saturday, April 30th at Washington’s Verizon Center at 8:00 pm ET (NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
Stat of the Night:
According to Elias Sports Bureau, TJ Oshie is the third player in Capitals history to register a playoff hat trick via an overtime goal joining Niklas Backstrom (2010 vs Montreal) and Dino Ciccarelli (1990 vs New Jersey).
Friday’s Stanley Cup Schedule:
Game 1 – Western Conference Second Round – St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Game 1 – Western Conference Second Round – Nashville Predators vs San Jose Sharks 10:30 pm ET (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).
Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.