Pittsburgh at Washington

Ovechkin, unheralded teammates lift Caps vs. Pens in Game 1

CBSSports.com wire reports

WASHINGTON -- In a series featuring several of the NHL's most notable stars, a couple of role players and a rookie goaltender made the difference for the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their showdown against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tomas Fleischmann scored the tiebreaking goal with 18:14 remaining, Simeon Varlamov stopped 34 shots, and the Capitals got the jump on their Eastern Conference rivals with a 3-2 victory Saturday.

  Series: Washington 1, Pittsburgh 0 | Goldstein: V for Varlamov

Yes, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby both scored, Alexander Semin had two assists and Evgeni Malkin set up a goal.

Just as significant, unheralded David Steckel scored his first goal of the playoffs to help Washington earn its first four-game winning streak in the playoffs since 1991.

"You need secondary scoring in the playoffs and it was our time to step up and help the guys out and get some points," Steckel said. "You're not going to win games with only your first and second line because obviously the defense is going to be keying on them."

Washington opened the playoffs by losing twice to the New York Rangers and had to rally from a 3-1 deficit to advance. The Capitals had no desire to have to do the same thing against Pittsburgh.

"This team is better," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said of the Penguins. "No disrespect to New York, but we'd have no chance being down 2-0 to be able to duplicate it."

Game 2 is Monday night in Washington.

Mark Eaton also scored for the defending Eastern Conference champion Penguins, who went 0-for-5 on the power play after going 1-for-18 in the final four games of their first-round series against Philadelphia.

"We need to do a better job on the power play," Crosby said. "We'll go over it and make sure we fix those things."

The Penguins and Capitals have met seven times previously in the playoffs; Pittsburgh has won six of those series. Seventeen of the 43 playoff games between the teams have been decided by one goal, including this thriller.

"Our shot total was 36. That's something you like to see at the end of the game," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "I think we could have added a few more. We had opportunities. We had chances to get some more goals. We didn't get enough to get the goals we needed to win, so we're going to try to get some more from the 36 shots."

With the score tied at 2 late in the second period, Varlamov twisted his body and stretched his stick across the goal line to deny Crosby, who had taken a shot from the left of the crease after receiving a cross-ice pass from Chris Kunitz. Crosby lifted his arms momentarily to celebrate before realizing the goaltender managed to keep the puck out of the net.

"I was out of position, there was really nothing I could do, so I lunged with the stick, and it just so happened the puck hit it right on the line," Varlamov said.

"It was kind of a desperation save," Crosby said. "You don't want to waste those opportunities."

Fleischmann got the only goal of the third period. Semin brought the puck into the zone and sent a diagonal pass to Nicklas Backstrom, who passed the puck across the ice to Fleischmann. That created an opening, and Fleischmann easily beat Marc-Andre Fleury for his second goal of the playoffs.

"I just went to the net, stopped and chipped it over," said Fleischmann, a second-line winger. "When your top guys have a lot of pressure on them, you have to take it away with secondary guys, like we are, and try to put it in."

Crosby put the Penguins up 1-0 with a wrist shot from between the circles at 4:09 of the first period. Pittsburgh dominated the first 10 minutes and built an 11-2 advantage in shots on goal before Steckel slammed in the rebound of a shot by Matt Bradley at 13:50.

It was the Capitals' first goal in May since Joe Juneau scored against Buffalo in the 1998 Eastern Conference finals.

At 17:03, Ovechkin scored from the left side after taking a pass from Semin with Washington working a 5-on-3.

Pittsburgh tied it at 12:54 of the second period when Eaton took a slap shot from just inside the blue line that slithered under Varlamov's glove and into the net. Varlamov redeemed himself later in the period with his outstanding stick-save against Crosby.

"He owed us one," Boudreau said.


  • Varlamov has played in more playoff games (seven) than regular-season games (six).
  • Pittsburgh scratches included Miroslav Satan, who played in two games during the opening round. Washington scratches included suspended winger Donald Brashear.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov stops 34 shots, including this attempt by Sidney Crosby. (AP)
Rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov stops 34 shots, including this attempt by Sidney Crosby. (AP)
Pittsburgh (0-1)1102
Washington  (1-0) «2013
Three Stars
S. Varlamov

Saves: 34
Save Pct.: .944
D. Steckel

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
S. Crosby

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
04:09Sidney Crosby (5), Wrist Shot. Assist: Guerin, Gonchar
13:50Dave Steckel (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Bradley, Laich
17:03Power Play - Alex Ovechkin (4), Slap Shot. Assist: Semin, Backstrom
12:54Mark Eaton (3), Slap Shot. Assist: Malkin, Kunitz
01:46Tomas Fleischmann (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Backstrom, Semin
Penalty Summary
10:44Fedorov, 2 min, Interference
15:14Gonchar, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
16:15Cooke, 2 min, Hooking
19:47Clark, 2 min, Holding
06:29Clark, 2 min, Tripping
04:29Fedorov, 2 min, Holding
12:22Erskine, 2 min, Tripping
Shots On Goal
Marc-Andre Fleury58:45233
Simeon Varlamov59:55342
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Game Information
Attendance - 18277
Referees - Dave Jackson, Kevin Pollock
Linesmen - Thor Nelson, Jean Morin
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Van 3