PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Penguins finally solved Simeon Varlamov, finally controlled Alex Ovechkin for most of a game and got the victory they needed to get back into their playoff series against the Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang scored his first career playoff goal on a shot from the point after Sidney Crosby’s faceoff win in overtime and the Penguins avoided going down three games to the Capitals, winning 3-2 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night.

Letang’s shot deflected off Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrisonn and past Varlamov, who had stopped nearly everything the Penguins threw at him. Washington scored first – on a goal by, who else, Ovechkin – then let Pittsburgh control the play for most of the game. The Penguins outshot the Capitals 42-23 and had a 7-2 edge in power plays.

Pittsburgh also got Evgeni Malkin’s pivotal first goal in six games and shook off Nicklas Backstrom’s late power-play goal to win their sixth consecutive overtime playoff game, five by 3-2 scores.

The victory prevented near certain elimination for Pittsburgh. No NHL team has rallied from a 3-0 playoff deficit in 34 years.

Game 4 in a series in which Washington won the first two games by one-goal margins at home is Friday night in Pittsburgh. Game 5 will be Saturday night in Washington.

Malkin, the NHL scoring champion who hadn’t scored in five games, snapped off a wrist shot from the high slot on a power play with 4:59 remaining that gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 edge.

Crosby, who had four goals in the first two games, didn’t score in Game 3 but set up the goals by Malkin and Letang for his first assists in six games. Letang, a defenseman, was uncertain he would play until earlier Wednesday because of a shoulder injury.

Pittsburgh pressed constantly for the go-ahead goal after Ruslan Fedotenko tied it near the midpoint of the second period, throwing flurry after flurry at Varlamov – the cool-as-it-gets rookie who played only six games during the season. Malkin finally got a shot through with Bill Guerin screening in front.

The goal by Malkin gave a huge lift to the Penguins and appeared to be enough to get them back into the series. Thanks to Backstrom, it wasn’t.

The Capitals, scoreless and badly outshot since Ovechkin scored his fifth in the series off a seemingly harmless dump-in 83 seconds into the game, got the tying goal with 1:50 to play on a bad-angle shot by Backstrom from behind the goal line with 1:50 to play.

With Washington on its first power play since before the halfway point of the first period, Ovechkin got the puck down low to Backstrom and he banked it in off the back of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

As in each of the previous two games of a tightly played, physical and fast-paced series, the visiting team got the first goal and controlled the early tempo only to have the home team regain the momentum.

Ovechkin scored his eighth of the playoffs after Mike Green’s dump-in ricocheted wildly into the slot, causing Fleury to accidentally lose his stick as he unsuccessfully scrambled back to the net to try to defend the shot.

Right about then, some of the 17,132 fans in the standing room crows had to be wondering if the Penguins were ever going to shut down Ovechkin, who already had five goals in the series that was only two games and less than two minutes old.

At that point, Ovechkin (5) and Crosby (4) had all but four of the 13 goals in the series.

The Penguins, badly outplayed in the opening 10 minutes, tied it at 9:29 of the second as Max Talbot took the puck away from Tomas Fleischmann and started a rush that ended with Fedotenko wristing a shot that Varlamov couldn’t control at 9:29. It was the first goal by a Penguins forward other than Crosby in the series.

Notes: The Capitals previously were 3-0 in the postseason when tied after two periods. … Pittsburgh is 6-2 against Washington in Game 3s and 7-3 in Game 3s when down 2-0 in a series. … The Penguins scratched F Petr Sykora and played F Miroslav Satan for the third time in the playoffs.

AP-ES-05-06-09 2250EDT

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