Work in Sports
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- The Washington Capitals scored five goals. Only three counted, but they were enough to avoid a sweep in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Washington overcame a pair of disallowed tallies and kept its season alive by rallying for a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins as rookie Jeff Halpern scored a power-play goal with 7:05 remaining.
The Capitals had apparent goals disallowed in the first and third periods but erased a 2-1 deficit and will host Game Five on Friday.
"We were relaxed and confident we could win a game," Caps coach Ron Wilson said. "We understand we're not going to win this series unless we can string four games together, but we needed to win to get that first one under our belt."
Pittsburgh's Ron Tugnutt made 34 saves but took a penalty for slashing Richard Zednik with 8:19 to play. Washington took the lead for good on the ensuing power play as Halpern put in a rebound of Ken Klee's shot from just inside the blue line.
It was the second goal in as many games for Halpern, who ranked sixth among rookies with 18 during the season.
"We got a good bounce tonight. You look at how Games Two and Three ended on just unbelievable shots. It's a good feeling to get one of those bounces late in the game," said Halpern.
Referring to the decisive penalty, Tugnutt said, "Obviously, I'm disappointed to take it late in the period like that. It's somewhat of a questionable call, but it was called. And then they scored, which makes it worse."
Olaf Kolzig made it stand up with key saves on Pat Falloon and Matthew Barnaby in the final five minutes. He ended up stopping 21 shots.
In the first period, Tugnutt stopped breakaways by Calle Johansson and Peter Bondra. Tugnutt tried to cover a loose puck after foiling Bondra, but Richard Zednik kicked it into the net and the goal was disallowed after a video review.
The Capitals were 0-for-3 on the power play in the opening 9 1/2 minutes, failing to get a shot during a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 86 seconds. But they grabbed the lead on Steve Konowalchuk's shorthanded goal at 9:57.
Halpern had possession on the left side and was spun around by Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr. The puck came through the crease to Konowalchuk, who turned at the bottom of the right faceoff circle and whipped a shot under Tugnutt's stick and between his pads.
John Slaney, a former Capital who spent most of the season in the American Hockey League, tied it for Pittsburgh 21 seconds later on the same power play. Playing for the injured Jan Hrdina, Slaney rifled a slapper from above the left circle and beat Kolzig to the glove side for his first playoff goal since 1994.
Despite getting outplayed, the Penguins came away with a 2-1 lead after one period as Jagr scored with 21 seconds left. He carried down the left side and behind the net before curling around the right goalpost and wristing the puck inside the far post.
"We were too loose the first 10 minutes. To get out of that first period, (ahead) 2-1, that's a big accomplishment," Pens coach Herb Brooks said. "You can't play that way against a team that's desperate like that."
Washington tied it 13:39 into the second. Adam Oates dropped a pass for Johansson, whose wrister from the top of the slot was stopped by Tugnutt. Chris Simon beat defenseman Bob Boughner to the rebound and scored his second goal of the series.
The Caps appeared to take the lead midway through the final period. Tugnutt lunged to make a glove save but could not control the puck. Washington's Joe Sacco knocked it down and rookie Trent Whitfield tried a backhander that caromed off Tugnutt into the net. But officials reviewed the play and ruled that Sacco used a high-stick.
Halpern got the game-winner minutes later.
"The goal gets called back and you feel so frustrated at the time," he said. "But it feels great to get that one in."
Hrdina, who led Pittsburgh with four goals in the first three games, sat out with a pulled rib muscle. His status is considered day-to-day.
"We missed him, but other clubs throughout the playoffs miss players," Brooks said. "We couldn't find the right combinations tonight. ... There aren't many teams in the history of the NHL who are going to sweep a series in four games. Nobody said this was going to be a four-game series. Washington is a very good hockey club, we know that."