Final OT

Pittsburgh won 4-3 (Game 3 of 7)

Pittsburgh won 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, May 2nd
Game 2: Monday, May 4th
Game 3: Wednesday, May 6th
Game 4: Friday, May 8th
Game 5: Saturday, May 9th
Game 6: Monday, May 11th
Game 7: Wednesday, May 13th

Coverage: NBCSN

7:00 PM ET, May 6, 2009

Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 OT T
WSH 1 0 1 02
PIT 0 1 1 13

E. Malkin (Penguins - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

K. Letang (Penguins - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

S. Varlamov (Capitals - G): Saves: 39, Save Pct.: .929

Caps tie late but Letang rescues Pens in OT to cut series to 2-1

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- On a night the Pittsburgh Penguins felt satisfied to limit Alex Ovechkin to one goal, they needed 3 1/2 periods and a huge disparity in shots and power plays before figuring out how to beat the Washington Capitals and whiz kid goalie Simeon Varlamov.

Burnside: Malkin, Pens Click

The series was billed as a battle of the Big 3, but for two games, Evgeni Malkin was nowhere to be found. Wednesday, Malkin found his game. It was no coincidence that the Penguins finally got on the board in the series, writes's Scott Burnside. Story

• Burnside: How The Big 3 Fared

They did it by turning Sidney Crosby, the goal scorer, back into Crosby, the exceptional setup man, and shaking NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin out of a slump that was threatening to put them out of the playoffs.

Kris Letang scored his first career playoff goal on a shot from the point at 11:23 of overtime after Crosby's faceoff win and the Penguins avoided going down three games to the Capitals by winning 3-2 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night.

Letang's shot deflected off Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrisonn and past the 21-year-old Varlamov, who had stopped nearly everything the Penguins threw at him while making 39 saves. Washington scored first -- on a goal by, who else, Ovechkin -- then let Pittsburgh control the play for most of the game.

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The Penguins led 42-23 in shots and 7-2 in power plays.

"We knew we had Tanger set up for a one-timer if we won it clean," Crosby said. "I just got it back to [Mark] Eaton and we got a good bounce there. We've been working on those plays, so it's nice to see when it works."

Just in time, too, as the victory prevented a near-certain series loss for Pittsburgh. No NHL team has rallied from a 3-0 playoff deficit in 34 years.

"The guys could have got frustrated, we kept with it and stuck with it and we eventually got rewarded," Crosby said. "Any time you go down 2-0 on the road, you know when you come home you've got to respond."

Crosby didn't score in Game 3 but set up goals by Malkin and Letang for his first assists in six games. Letang, a defenseman, was uncertain he would play until earlier Wednesday because of a shoulder injury, then helped the Penguins win their sixth consecutive overtime playoff game, five by 3-2 scores.

"You obviously like to take the first one on the road, it's probably the easiest, you come in and they're all excited, but it was a great game and now we need to refocus and try to get a win on Friday [in Game 4]," said David Steckel, who lost the faceoff to Crosby.

Malkin, quiet in the first two games as Crosby and Ovechkin dominated with four goals each, snapped off a wrist shot from the high slot on a power play with 4:59 remaining in the third period to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 edge.

"He [Malkin] was at another level," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He was dominant with the puck and he had the goal, which was fantastic."

Fast Facts

• The Penguins avoided digging a 3-0 series hole with their second overtime win of the postseason. Much-maligned Evgeni Malkin scored the Penguins' second goal of the game. He had not scored in his last five playoff games.

•  The Penguins peppered Capitals goalie Simeon Varlamov with 42 shots on goal, compared to just 23 for Washington.

• Alex Ovechkin scored his eighth goal of the postseason, but it was the first time he scored the first goal of a game.

• The Capitals' five-game playoff win streak was snapped, which had been the longest in franchise history. The win also snapped the Penguins' five-game losing streak against the Capitals.

• Pittsburgh has trailed Washington twice before in a postseason series in their history and rallied back to win the series each time.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

Despite getting his eighth goal of the postseason and fifth in three games, Ovechkin was largely controlled, although he had five shots.

"We didn't play our game," Ovechkin said. "I don't want to talk about Varlamov. I don't want to talk about the referees, too. They only had two penalties, it's kind of a joke."

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said Varlamov nearly stole the game, and added he disliked the officiating nearly as much as Ovechkin.

"When you get a goaltending effort like that, you have to win because they don't come around every day," Boudreau said. "I think we might have deserved the penalties, but they sure as hell deserved a few more than they got."

Pittsburgh pressed constantly for the go-ahead goal after Ruslan Fedotenko tied it near the midpoint of the second period, throwing flurry after flurry at Varlamov -- the cool-as-it-gets rookie who played only six games during the season. Malkin finally got a shot through with Bill Guerin screening in front.

But it wasn't enough to win it.

The Capitals, scoreless and badly outshot since Ovechkin scored off a seemingly harmless dump-in by Mike Green 83 seconds into the game, got the tying goal with 1:50 to play on a bad-angle shot by Nicklas Backstrom from behind the goal line.

With Washington on its first power play since before the halfway point of the first period, Ovechkin got the puck down low to Backstrom and he banked it in off goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's back.

As in each of the previous two games of a tightly played, physical and fast-paced series, the visiting team got the first goal and controlled the early tempo only to have the home team regain momentum.

The Penguins, badly outplayed in the opening 10 minutes, tied it at 9:29 of the second when Fedotenko wristed a shot past Varlamov for the first goal of the series by a Penguins forward other than Crosby.

Game notes

The Capitals previously were 3-0 when tied after two periods. ... Pittsburgh is 6-2 against Washington in Game 3s and 7-3 in Game 3s when down 2-0 in a series. ... The Penguins rallied to win after trailing Washington by 2-0 in 1992 and 1996.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press