It was not pretty, but the Washington Capitals have made the Eastern Conference Semifinals series an interesting one. It took a Kevin Shattenkirk goal in overtime for the Caps to avoid going down three games to none to the Pittsburgh Penguins, which most likely would have been it for Washington.
This was the equivalent of an elimination game for the Capitals. Only three teams in the history of the NHL have been able to come back from a 3-0 deficit.
|1942 Toronto Maple Leafs Staley Cup Finals||Detroit Red Wings lead series 3-0|
|1975 New York Islanders Quarter-Finals||Pittsburgh Penguins lead series 3-0|
|2010 Philadelphia Eastern Conference Semi-finals||Boston Bruins lead series 3-0|
|2014 Los Angeles Kings Western Conference Quarter-Finals||San Jose Sharks lead series 3-0|
The outcome of the game almost became lost in the events that followed in the opening six minutes of the first period. On an odd man rush, Sidney Crosby drove to the net and after getting clipped by an Alex Ovechkin stick, Crosby turned and staggered before taking a Matt Niskanen cross check to the head. Crosby left the game and would not return. It was announced Tuesday that Crosby was diagnosed with a concussion and will miss Game Four. This is Crosby’s fifth concussion of his career. People around the hockey world know just how devastating head injuries can be.
Niskanen was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the cross check. However, he will not receive a suspension. After Malkin took a penalty that cost the Penguins a huge early power play opportunity, the Capitals responded with a five-on-three power play goal from Nicklas Backstrom. This was the Capitals first lead of the series and their confidence seemed to build. Braden Holtby and Marc-Andre Fleury put on a show from there on.
The scored remained 1-0 until Evgeny Kuznetsov scored halfway through the third period. Pittsburgh stormed back, scoring twice in the final two minutes with the goaltender pulled to send the game to overtime. Kevin Shattenkirk ended the game on the power play. Trevor Daley was sent to the box after hauling down Marcus Johansson on a partial breakaway. This goal could not have come at a better time for Shattenkirk and the Caps. Following the 6-2 beat down, Head Coach Barry Trotz called out Shattenkirk. He definitely responded in Game Three.
Washington will try and even the series and avoid falling to 3-1 in this series. This is the same deficit they fell into last year when they lost to the Penguins. Sidney Crosby and Connor Sheary will miss Game Four. Both skaters suffered concussions in the Game Three loss.
Game Four goes Wednesday, 7:30 P.M at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
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