Capitals drop heartbreaker to Penguins

Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Capitals came back in the third period as the Pittsburgh Penguins choked away a lead. But the Penguins got a lucky break in the games final minutes to perhaps sink the Caps playoff hopes in a 4-3 game.

The first period was scoreless as the Penguins led in shots 13-9.

In the second the Penguins went up 2-0. They got goals from Ryan Poehling at 10:10 and Chad Ruhwedel at 12:17. Shots were 15-14 Penguins in the second.

In the third Jake Guentzel put the Pens up 3-0 on a power play goal. Then the Caps came back.

Tom Wilson got them on the board at 5:19. Evgeny Kuznetsov had the assist. It was Wilson’s ninth goal of the season. Alex Ovechkin struck on the power play for his 42nd goal of the season at 13:18. John Carlson and Dylan Strome had the helpers.

Strome tied it at 17:16 for his 18th goal of the season. Conor Sheary and Nicolas Aube Kubel had the helpers. It looked like the Caps were going to steal this game or at least come away with a point.

Then they blew it in typical Caps fashion.

At 18:40, Anthony Mantha coughed the puck up at center ice allowing Evgeni Malkin to race down the ice and score the game winning goal. Shots were 12-11 Penguins in the third and 40-34 Penguins overall. The loss sinks the Caps record to 34-32-8 for 76 points. They are six games back of the Penguins with eight games left.

Ovechkin now has 822 goals on his career, putting him 72 away from Wayne Gretzky. It was also his 299th career power play goal. He has scored 50 percent of his goals this season (21 of 32) in the third period. He has recorded 24 of his 72 points (42 goals, 30 assists) this season in the final 10 minutes of regulation or overtime.

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The Caps will practice tomorrow at 11 a.m. at MedStar Capitals Iceplex with no game until Wednesday night against the New York Islanders at Capital One Arena.