Capitals falter in Game 4
PITTSBURGH - Alex Ovechkin disappeared, at least as much as the game's most dominant scorer can, and so did all the magic Simeon Varlamov was working.
Suddenly, the Washington Capitals are in a familiar position against rival Pittsburgh, losing their grip on a playoff series that seemed to be theirs.
The Penguins shook off an opening-minute Washington goal and scored three times in less than 12 minutes in the first period against Varlamov to beat the Capitals, 5-3, last night and even the Eastern Conference semifinal at 2.
The Capitals' first major letdown in the series came when Washington's one-goal lead quickly became a two-goal deficit as Sergei Gonchar, Bill Guerin, and Ruslan Fedotenko scored.
The Capitals won't get much time to try to regain any confidence they lost by losing twice in Pittsburgh, not with Game 5 in Washington tonight. The teams are playing in two nights in two cities - all because of a Yanni concert in Pittsburgh Tuesday.
Pittsburgh has a major worry, though, as Gonchar was helped off the ice late in the first period after absorbing a knee-on-knee hit from Ovechkin.
"I mean, you can run guys, guys are fair game, but the guy [Ovechkin] takes strides every time and leaves his feet a lot of times, too," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "To us, we got the feeling he's really trying to hurt guys at times."
Ovechkin denied during a postgame talk with Penguins star Evgeni Malkin's father that the hit on his former Russian Olympic teammate was dirty.
Ovechkin scored a combined four goals, but he was shut out on two shots while being shadowed by defenseman Rob Scuderi. Penguins star Sidney Crosby had his playoff-leading ninth goal and an assist.