(The Sports Xchange) - It took half an overtime to settle the back-and-forth playoff series opener between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
Then it took a few minutes to more to confirm that it was settled.
T.J. Oshie completed a hat-trick when he scored the game-winning goal at 9:33 of overtime and the Capitals defeated the Penguins 4-3 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semi-final.
Oshie’s wraparound attempt snuck under the pad of goaltender Matthew Murphy and survived a lengthy video review.
“Thought I could maybe beat him back to the post,” Oshie said. “He did a good job. He actually beat me by a hair. I think I got a bounce off his blocker maybe and it went back in.”
As hats soared out onto the Verizon Center ice, the players waited by the bench while the goal was reviewed. A huge roar accompanied the referee’s announcement.
“The wait seemed pretty long,” Oshie said. “I thought I saw it all the way across. I put my hands up and looked at the ref, and he marked it a goal so that kind of reassured me.”
Andre Burakovsky also scored for Washington and Braden Holtby made 42 saves.
Game 2 is set for Saturday.
“It’s going to be like this every game I feel like,” Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom said. “So might as well get used to it.”
Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh, and Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin added a goal apiece. Carl Hagelin had two assists.
Murray finished with 31 saves.
“This game could have went either way,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “Our guys played hard. It didn’t go our way. We will learn from it and look to get Game 2.”
The first postseason meeting between Alex Ovechkin’s Capitals and Sidney Crosby’s Penguins since 2009 lived up to the hype with end-to-end action and 80 shots on goal.
“We definitely had some good looks,” Crosby said. “If we get those chances I think every game, we like the chance we have of winning.”
The Capitals took a 3-2 lead at 3:23 of the third when Ovechkin recovered his own blocked shot and fed Oshie, whose backhander slid under Murray’s right pad.
Bonino got the equalizer at 8:42 when Hagelin fed him from behind the end line and Bonino’s deflected shot trickled past Holtby.
Murray preserved the tie with a pad save on Ovechkin’s breakaway attempt with 3:20 left in regulation.
Washington earned the Presidents’ Trophy and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs with a 120-point regular season, but Pittsburgh were the hottest entering the postseason after going 28-10-3 during the second half of the season.
The Capitals took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Murray made the initial save on Jason Chimera from the slot, but Burakovsky was alone in front and scored on the rebound at 10:13 for his first point of the postseason.
The Penguins got untracked during a second period in which they outshot Washington 17-7 and scored twice in a 57-second span.
Pittsburgh tied it when Bonino made a beautiful deke to get around defenseman Dmitry Orlov at the Washington blue line. His shot was stopped by Holtby, but Lovejoy poked the rebound home.
Then with the Penguins cycling in the Washington zone, Malkin came off the bench, took a feed from Chris Kunitz in the left circle and lifted a backhander over Holtby’s left shoulder at 11:37 to make it 2-1.
“I thought we just managed the puck better,” Sullivan said of the second period. “That’s when our teams at our best, when we manage the puck and make the right decisions.”
The lead lasted less than 30 seconds however, as Oshie stole a pass by defenseman Olli Maatta, skated in alone on Murray and fired over his glove to tie the score.
Editing by Peter Rutherford