The Washington Capitals needed a lucky bounce to finally get an overtime win in Game 3 in their intense first-round playoff series with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Lars Eller got the last stick on a puck that bounced off him and Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski before rolling past Sergei Bobrovsky, and Washington got the 3-2 victory nine minutes into the second overtime Tuesday night.
The Capitals won at Nationwide Arena after Columbus won the first two games — both in overtime — in Washington. It was the Capitals' turn to prevail in OT, this time on the Blue Jackets' home ice, to pull to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
"It means a ton, a win like this after playing for that long," Eller said. "I'm sure they feel a lot more tired in that room than we are feeling right now. It gives you a lot of energy. It's going to be a battle again in Game 4."
Tom Wilson and John Carlson also scored, and Braden Holtby stopped 33 shots for the Capitals, who were in danger of falling into a nearly insurmountable hole had they let the game slip away.
"We got some good fortune, but we also executed and we were committed today," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.
Game 4 is Thursday night back here with Game 5 set for Washington on Saturday.
"We got a break. It's what we needed," Capitals forward John Connolly said. "You need breaks, every team is so good now, you need to keep pressing and pressing."
Pierre-Luc Dubois and Artemi Panarin scored for Columbus, and Bobrovsky finished with 42 saves after getting 54 in the Game 2 on Sunday.
Panarin tied the score 4:12 into the third period after he and Cam Atkinson went back and forth with pinpoint passes before he swiped it past Holtby from the left circle.
That's the way it stayed until the second overtime.
After a scoreless first period, Wilson got credit for the first Washington goal when he deflected Matt Niskanen's rising shot 5:52 into the second. The Blue Jackets got a break two minutes later when a goal by Connolly was waved off after a video replay showed he was offside bringing the puck down the ice.
Dubois tied it with 8:42 left in the second when he rifled a shot past Holtby's glove from the right circle.
Later in the period, with Columbus' Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Murray both in the penalty box for slashing, Carlson connected with 5:17 left on a one-timer 28 seconds into the 5-on-3.
After feasting on the power play in the first two games, the Blue Jackets failed to score on four tries with a man advantage. The Capitals whiffed on three of their four power plays.
"It's a hell of a series," Columbus coach John Tortorella said.
NOTES: The Capitals have outshot the Blue Jackets 133-92 through the first three games. Washington forward Jakub Vrana played in place of Andre Burakovsky, who is out at least through Thursday's game with an upper-body injury suffered when he was checked into the boards by Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner on Sunday. Vrana was a healthy scratch for that game. Blue Jackets forward Alexander Wennberg missed a second game after being injured in Game 1. Sonny Milano again played in his place. The announced crowd of 19,337 was the largest ever for a Blue Jackets game. Washington star Alex Ovechkin appeared in his 100th career playoff game. Panarin, who had an assist on Dubois' goal, has eight straight multi-point games. It was the 22nd time in NHL history that a playoff series went to overtime in at least three consecutive games.
Washington 0 2 0 0 1—3
Columbus 0 1 1 0 0—2
Second period—1, Washington, Wilson 1 (Niskanen, Ovechkin), 5:52. 2, Columbus, Dubois 1 (Panarin, Jones), 11:18. 3, Washington, Carlson 1 (Ovechkin, Backstrom), 14:43 (pp).
Third period—4, Columbus, Panarin 2 (Atkinson), 4:12.
Second overtime—5, Washington, Eller 1 (Connolly, Smith-Pelly), 9:00.
Shots on goal—Washington 11-14-6-6-8—45. Columbus 9-7-10-7-2—35.
Power-play opportunities—Washington 1 of 4; Columbus 0 of 4.
Goalies—Washington, Holtby 1-1 (35 shots-33 saves). Columbus, Bobrovsky 2-1 (45-42).
A—19,337 (18,500). T—3:52.