Their much-anticipated playoff showdown in the Eastern Conference semifinals opened in Washington with Crosby and Ovechkin trading goals. But it was Simeon Varlamov, the Capitals' rookie goalie, who stole the show and the win. Varlamov made 34 saves, including a dazzling diving desperation stop on Crosby that preserved a 2-2 tie late in the second period. Tomas Fleischmann scored with 18:14 to go in the third to give the Capitals a 3-2 win.
2 of 7Lou Capozzola/SI, Simon Bruty/SI
The superstars swapped hat tricks in Game 2, but Ovechkin's pair less than three minutes apart in the third period gave the Capitals a 4-3 win and 2-0 series edge. "Sick game. Sick three goals by me and Crosby,'' Ovechkin said. ''It's unbelievable to see how fans react, how fans go crazy. The atmosphere right now, it's unbelievable in town. You see all the red, and -- probably I'm afraid to go home right now.''
3 of 7Jamie Sabau/Getty Images, AP
Back home and desperate, the Penguins held Ovechkin to one goal in Game 3 as Crosby helped Evgeni Malkin snap a scoring slump. Crosby set up Malkin's goal that put Pittsburgh up 2-1 with 4:59 left in the third period. The Kid's faceoff win also led to Kris Letang's first career playoff goal -- a blast from the point at 11:23 of overtime -- which gave the Penguins the 3-2 win.
4 of 7Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images, Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
The Penguins got even in Game 4 by blitzing Varlamov with three goals in less than 12 minutes during the opening period on the way to a 5-3 win. Crosby scored his playoffs-leading ninth goal and tacked on an assist. Ovechkin was kept off the score sheet by his shadow, Penguins blueliner Rob Scuderi, but made his presence felt by colliding with Pittsburgh's Sergei Gonchar late in the first period. Gonchar had to be helped off the ice and did not return.
5 of 7Simon Bruty/SI, AP
Returning to home ice, the Capitals were stunned, 4-3, in Game 5 when Malkin's power-play pass to Crosby was broken up by sliding defenseman Tom Poti only to have the puck get past Varlamov at 3:28 of OT. The Penguins had rallied from a 2-1 deficit after two periods and they withstood Ovechkin's two goals, including his tying tally with less than five minutes to go in regulation. "These games come down to mistakes and bounces,'' Crosby said. ''And we got a good bounce there on the last goal.''
6 of 7Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, AP
Vowing there would be a Game 7, Ovechkin made good on his promise with three assists as the Capitals went into Pittsburgh and came away with a gritty 5-4 win in OT. Losers of their last seven OT games, the Caps' couldn't hold their 4-3 lead when Crosby scored late in the third period. But David Steckel came to the rescue when he went to the net after winning a faceoff and tipped a shot by Brooks Laich past Marc-Andre Fleury 6:22 into OT. ''I think it's going to be great game,'' Ovechkin said. ''I think the league wants us to play Game 7.''
7 of 7Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images
Alex Ovechkin scored a goal, but Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist to lead the Penguins to a 6-2 thrashing of the Capitals in Game 7.
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