Capitals outshoot Penguins for 3-2 win

The Washington Capitals came home to CapitalOne Arena to face their perennial rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins for a single stop before another brief road trip. In an intense game that saw 82 total shots fired by both teams, the Capitals finally won after a heart-stopping overtime session and a shootout. The Capitals got Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie back into the lineup but were forced to play without Tom Wilson, still nursing a lower-body injury.

The Capitals dominated the opening period, launching 22 shots at Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith. Only one would get through and it was scored by Alex Ovechkin on the power play. Ovechkin waited for his man to collapse toward the goal which left him completely open. Evgeny Kuznetsov found his captain waiting at the left circle who only needed a moment to fire the wrister through the short side and into the net at six minutes into the contest.

The game’s second goal was scored by Pittsburgh winger Danton Heinen at 2:37. Off a rush, Drew O’Connor looped a shot from the right-wing boards. Darcy Kuemper stopped the initial shot but then promptly lost sight of it which allowed Heinen to sneak behind and put in the loose puck.

The deadlock remained in place until 5:17 of the third period when Marcus Johansson scored to give the home team the lead. Using Sonny Milano as a partial screen, Johansson neatly rifled his snap shot just under the bar. The shot, placed from above the circles just barely evaded DeSmith’s glove. Brian Rust would tie the game once again at 12:52 with a wrist shot that seemed to catch Kuemper moving the wrong way. Kuemper would redeem himself for the remainder of regulation with several key saves, however.

The game went overtime and the Capitals were given a grand opportunity to put away the game. Evgeny Malkin was called for tripping TJ Oshie 47 seconds into the extra session. They could not score as DeSmith continued his exceptional puck-stopping.

In the dying seconds of the overtime period, a careless pass to the middle by Ovechkin created a chance for Brian Dumoulin only to be thwarted by a last-second save by Kuemper. The goalie charged at Dumoulin thus cutting off any chance for a rebound and preserving the tie for the moment.

The game went to the shootout featuring goals by Rickard Rackell of the Penguins and Kuznetsov (utilizing his now-patented 20-plus stickhandling move). Backstrom got the eventual winner in the final round with Kuemper stopping Malkin to seal the win.

NOTES—Ovechkin’s goal was his 32nd of the season. Oshie’s family welcomed a baby girl named Lucy into the world. The Capitals have the next two days off before their next match on January 29th in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. The scheduled start time is 5 PM ET.

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