T.J. Oshie’s hat-trick goal nine minutes into overtime secured a 4-3 win for the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference second round play-off series.
Oshie’s wraparound effort barely crossed the line, but was upheld after a four-minute video review.
“I haven’t won too many championships in my lifetime,” Oshie said. “Maybe through the youth years. That’s kind of the stuff you dream about when you’re a kid playing in the backyard by yourself is scoring the OT winner and getting a hat trick. It was awesome.”
The series between the Capitals and the Penguins has been eagerly anticipated, particularly the meeting of star men Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven years.
Capitals’ boss Barry Trotz believes the opening encounter lived up to the hype.
He said: “It went into overtime. You saw the skill level on both sides. You saw the resiliency on both sides. You saw lots of star power. You saw some great saves. You saw special teams that were pretty strong.
“I think it’s going to build more and more as we go along.”
Highlight of the game for the Penguins was Evgeni Malkin’s stunning backhand goal which briefly gave them a 2-1 lead.
Both Ovechkin and Crosby produced solid performances, with the Russian forward bagging an assist on Oshie’s second goal.
Ovechkin praised Oshie’s impact on the game: “Great effort by Oshie – make his move, go behind the net and put pucks in the net,” he said.
“In overtime, every shot is a good shot. We have plenty of chances in OT. We got one and we move forward.”
Elsewhere, Wednesday’s opening Eastern Conference second round playoff game saw New York Islanders seal a 5-3 victory against Tampa Bay Lightning.
Shane Prince (2), Travis Hamonic, John Tavares and Cal Clutterbuck scored for the Islanders, while Thomas Greiss made 33 saves to guide his team to a 1-0 series lead.
The Western Conference second round series get underway on Friday, with Dallas Stars facing St Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks meeting Nashville Predators.