for this game

Crosby, Penguins capitalize on crucial mistake, beat Capitals

Mar 9, 2008 - 9:11 PM
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- A rookie mistake cost the Washington Capitals.

Sidney Crosby was credited with a pair of goals but his game-winner in the final minute was accidentally knocked in by rookie Nicklas Backstrom as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Capitals, 4-2, on Sunday afternoon.

All-Star Evgeni Malkin had three assists and Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves for the Penguins (39-24-7), who moved within one point of the idle New Jersey Devils (40-23-6) for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

"It's so tight right now, with the type of hockey that's being played," Crosby said. "Everyone's fighting for their lives out there to be in the playoffs. That's just the way the games are going to go from here on in."

With the score deadlocked at 2-2, Pittsburgh was scrambling to get another goal past goaltender Cristobal Huet in the final minute.

Stationed to the right of the net, Crosby attempted to make a cross-crease pass to Pascal Dupuis that was intercepted by Backstrom. But Backstrom mistakenly swiped the puck into the Capitals' net, giving the Penguins a 3-2 edge with 28 seconds remaining.

"I just threw it at the net," Crosby said. "I think Huet tried to clear his rebound to the side and it went right to Backstrom - I think he was beside Dupuis. I think (Backstrom) might have tried to hit Dupuis' stick, seeing the puck come across, and obviously, accidentally, he hit it. ... He got a piece of it and it went in."

"Bad breaks like that happen and we don't want Nicky to beat himself up because he played a great hockey game for us tonight and he's played great all season," Capitals center Brooks Laich said. "We'll be here for him tomorrow."

Crosby said he could understand the pain experienced by Backstrom and the Capitals, whose playoff hopes are dwindling.

"We've been on the other side of that before and it's not fun," he said. "Obviously, it's a big break for us. I thought we had a good push there in the third period. We could have had a couple but sometimes things work their way out."

Jordan Staal added an empty-netter with 13 seconds left to secure the win for the Penguins, who have won three of their last four contests.

Fleury, making his fifth start since returning from his ankle injury, made a nifty glove save off a blistering shot by Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin with less than two minutes left in the final session to keep the score tied.

"He played well all game," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said of Fleury. "Especially after we pulled him out last game, I wanted to give him the chance to bounce back. I really think he did a great job."

The Capitals opened the scoring on a power play at 7:23 of the first period when Laich deflected Alexander Semin's shot past the stick side of Fleury.

The Penguins evened the contest 79 seconds later, capitalizing on a 3-on-2 rush. Petr Sykora slapped a one-timer off a pass from Malkin past Huet.

Crosby gave the Penguins a 2-1 edge with 1:52 left in the middle session. After Malkin's one-timer was stopped by Huet, Crosby stuffed the rebound between the netminder's pads.

"I realize there is a bit of a rivalry there and obviously with the way that things are, it's even more intense," Crosby said of playing at Verizon Center, which always draws more than its expected share of Penguins' fans. "There are always a lot of great fans here, even cheering for us. It is a great atmosphere. I think in the first period, there were more hits than shots. It was definitely a playoff-like atmosphere."

Therrien said Crosby played his best game since returning his high ankle sprain, which sidelined him for 21 games.

"It definitely was the best game of Crosby," Therrien said. "We had a talk before the game ... and he played really good tonight. It's going to take him some time to bring his game (to) where it was.

"There's no athlete that could come back to competition after such a long time being out of the game. There's no doubt tonight that was the best performance I've seen since he's been back."

The Capitals answered 88 ticks later on a 5-on-3 power play. Semin took a pass from Ovechkin to the right of the net and stuffed it in on the near side of Fleury to tie the game at 2-2 with 14 seconds left in the period.

"We have a chance on the power play, but after that, we just lost progress and Pittsburgh scores a funny goal," Ovechkin said. "It's OK because it happens, but it's not good when it happens to us."

"We've been there before, don't worry," Therrien said. "It's a character win. We've been on the road for almost two weeks. Guys are tired, there's no doubt."

Huet turned aside 22 shots of the 25 he faced for Washington (32-30-8), which remains six points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"Bruce (Boudreau, the Capitals coach) came in and said from now on we have to win," Laich said. "I don't think anyone thinks we're out of it yet. The other teams - the Philadephias, the Buffalos, the Carolinas - I still think they are going to lose some hockey games - and as long as we keep taking care of business here, we still have a belief that we are going to make the playoffs."






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    Penguins 4, Capitals 2  FinalMar 12 11:57 AM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 2 2 4
    WASHINGTON 0 2 0 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: WAS - (PP) BROOKS LAICH 17 (ALEXANDER SEMIN, ALEX OVECHKIN)
    7:23
    PIT - PETR SYKORA 22 (EVGENI MALKIN, JEFF TAFFE) 8:42
    PIT - SIDNEY CROSBY 21 (SERGEI GONCHAR, EVGENI MALKIN) 18:08
    WAS - (PP) ALEXANDER S

    Mar 9 3:09 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 4
    WASHINGTON 2
    3RD PRD: PIT - (EN) JORDAN STAAL 10 (EVGENI MALKIN) 19:47

    Penguins 4, Capitals 2  3rd - 0:13Mar 9 3:03 PM
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    Penguins 4, Capitals 2  3rd - 0:13Mar 9 3:03 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 3
    WASHINGTON 2
    3RD PRD: PIT - SIDNEY CROSBY 22 (UNASSISTED) 19:32

    Penguins 3, Capitals 2  3rd - 0:28Mar 9 3:01 PM
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    Penguins 3, Capitals 2  3rd - 0:28Mar 9 3:01 PM
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    Penguins 2, Capitals 2  3rd - 2:25Mar 9 2:57 PM
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    Penguins 2, Capitals 2  3rd - 6:05Mar 9 2:52 PM
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    Penguins 2, Capitals 2  End of 2ndMar 9 2:21 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 2 2
    WASHINGTON 0 2 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: WAS - (PP) BROOKS LAICH 17 (ALEXANDER SEMIN, ALEX OVECHKIN)
    7:23
    PIT - PETR SYKORA 22 (EVGENI MALKIN, JEFF TAFFE) 8:42
    PIT - SIDNEY CROSBY 21 (SERGEI GONCHAR, EVGENI MALKIN) 18:08
    WAS - (PP

    Mar 9 2:11 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 2
    WASHINGTON 2
    2ND PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEXANDER SEMIN 21 (ALEX OVECHKIN, SERGEI FEDOROV)
    19:46

    Penguins 2, Capitals 2  2nd - 0:14Mar 9 2:10 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 2
    WASHINGTON 1
    2ND PRD: PIT - SIDNEY CROSBY 21 (SERGEI GONCHAR, EVGENI MALKIN) 18:08

    Penguins 2, Capitals 1  2nd - 1:52Mar 9 2:07 PM
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    Penguins 1, Capitals 1  2nd - 5:01Mar 9 2:06 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 1
    WASHINGTON 1
    2ND PRD: PIT - PETR SYKORA 22 (EVGENI MALKIN, JEFF TAFFE) 8:42

    Penguins 1, Capitals 1  2nd - 11:18Mar 9 1:46 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 0
    WASHINGTON 1
    2ND PRD: WAS - (PP) BROOKS LAICH 17 (ALEXANDER SEMIN, ALEX OVECHKIN)
    7:23

    Penguins 0, Capitals 1  2nd - 12:37Mar 9 1:44 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 0
    WASHINGTON 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PIT 4 4
    WAS 11 11
    GOALIES: PIT - MARC-ANDRE FLEURY
    WAS - CRISTOBAL HUET

    Mar 9 1:13 PM
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