Of all the things that have gone wrong for the Washington Capitals in the past 18 years against the Pittsburgh Penguins, few have been as unlucky and fluky as the goal Evgeni Malkin was credited with in overtime tonight.
Just when it seemed like Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin were going to erase years of frustration for Caps fans by willing the team to a comeback victory, Malkin’s pass intended for Sidney Crosby at the far post went off Tom Poti’s stick — who was diving head-first to elimiate said passing lane — and between Simeon Varlamov’s legs for a 4-3 win and a 3-2 series lead.
“We lost the game. We’re disappointed,” Ovechkin said. “But we want to come back here for Game 7.”
Forgetting pre-Ovechkin history for a moment, these Caps are down 3-2 in a series for the third time in two years. Each of the past two times, Washington has won Game 6 and forced Game 7.
“We certainly have the experience in this situation,” David Steckel said. “All hope is not lost. So we’re going to try to go in and it’s a must-win game for us. There’s nothing more to say than that.”
Here are a few other notes:
* Alex Ovechkin now leads the league with both 10 goals and 17 points after a two-goal, three-point night. His 17 points now ties a team record for most points in a playoff series.
* Nicklas Backstrom was the best player on the ice tonight. He and Ovechkin have combined for 10 of the team’s 15 goals in this series.
Backstrom set a team record by scoring at least one point in his eighth consecutive playoff game.
* The Capitals have lost seven straight playoff overtime games dating back to a Game 4 win in 2001 against Pittsburgh.
* The Caps are also 0-8 against the Penguins in Game 5s.
* Sergei Fedorov played a little time on defense after the team went down 3-2. He was also supposed to be in the penalty box and not Milan Jurcina, and therefore probably wouldn’t have been at the end of a shift and trying to defend Malkin on the final play.
* The Caps are not practicing tomorrow, and will be back at Mellon Arena on Monday to try and salvage their season.
“I just say [to the players], ‘We’ll regroup tomorrow and we’ve been in this position before,” Bruce Boudreau said. “It is a tough hill climb, but you’ve just got to think of it as one game.”