Wed, May 03, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Penguins defeated after hit sidelines Crosby

AP, PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins takes a hit from the Washington Capitals’ Matt Niskanen during Game 3 of their NHL Eastern Conference second-round series in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Monday.

Photo: AP

A shot from the point by Washington’s Kevin Shattenkirk salvaged — or at the very least, extended — his team’s NHL season.

A far different kind of shot might end up determining the outcome of a playoff series growing more contentious by the shift.

Shattenkirk’s goal 3 minutes, 13 seconds into overtime lifted the Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-1 in their Eastern Conference second-round series, one that could go on without Penguins star Sidney Crosby.

The Pittsburgh captain left just over five minutes into the game after getting cross-checked to the head by Washington’s Matt Niskanen.

The NHL’s leading scorer and one of the game’s best players did not return and his status for today’s Game 4 — and maybe the rest of the post-season — was uncertain.

“Certainly didn’t mean to injure him,” said Niskanen, who spent four years with Crosby in Pittsburgh before signing with Washington in 2014. “It’s an unfortunate play that happened really quick.”

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby was to be evaluated yesterday.

Even without Crosby, Pittsburgh pushed Washington to the limit. With Washington leading 2-0 and less than two minutes left in regulation time, Evgeni Malkin and Justin Schultz scored in a 48-second span to force overtime.

For once Washington, whose history is littered with playoff collapses, dominated the extra period before Shattenkirk’s flip zipped by Marc-Andre Fleury’s blocker to send his teammates pouring over the boards in celebration.

“Tonight was a great test for all of us,” said Shattenkirk, who played miserably during a blowout loss in Game 2. “There were a lot of different moments in the game where we had to see what we were made of.”

However, one frightening moment resonated above all others.

The game was scoreless early in the first period when Crosby skated just outside the Capitals’ crease. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin slashed Crosby along the upper body and Crosby slid awkwardly trying to maintain his balance when he collided with Niskanen, who had his stick raised.

The stick caught Crosby across the mouth and the two-time Hart Trophy winner laid on the ice in pain for several moments before slowly skating off under his own power as Pittsburgh trainers searched the area for Crosby’s teeth.

Niskanen earned a major penalty for cross-checking and was given a game misconduct.

Washington coach Barry Trotz called it “a hockey play.”

Niskanen allowed it looked “really bad” when he caught the replay, but said that there was no malicious intent.

His former teammates were not buying it.

“It’s one of those things you look at it once, you see what actually happened and the next thing is watching how deliberate it was when the guy cross-checks him in the face,” Pittsburgh forward Chris Kunitz said. “I thought all of that was kind of out of this league, but I guess not.”

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