STEPHEN WHYNO, AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — T.J. Oshie raised his arms in celebration and looked at referee Dan O'Rourke. Oshie was pretty sure he scored in overtime to complete a hat trick and one of the biggest games of his career.
Oshie's third goal of the night stood up after video review and the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on Thursday night in an overtime thriller that was a classic start to the highly anticipated second-round playoff series between Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
"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," Oshie said. "It was awesome. Great way to win."
Oshie's wraparound just barely crossed the goal line against the right pad of Pittsburgh's Matt Murray 9:33 into overtime. The call on the ice was a goal, and the NHL's situation room said video replay confirmed that the puck was completely over the line.
Murray, who made 31 saves but was beaten three times by Oshie and once by Andre Burakovsky, wasn't convinced.
"The ref called it a goal on the ice," Murray said. "I don't know how he could have possibly seen it from his angle. But I thought I had it, to be honest. I knew it was close, but I thought it never fully crossed the line. I thought it was close enough that it would be inconclusive."
To the Penguins, it was an inconclusive end to a fast game played at their blistering pace. Ben Lovejoy, Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bonino scored for Pittsburgh, which will try to even the best-of-seven series Saturday night in Game 2.
Both teams expect much of the same entertainment value that was on display in Game 1. Beyond Murray stoning Ovechkin and Braden Holtby turning aside 42 of 45 shots, there were goals off the rush, a knee-on-knee hit by Washington's Tom Wilson on Conor Sheary and even Jay Beagle getting a stick stuck between his helmet and visor.
"The momentum shifts, the big hits, the goals, overtime, the big saves: This is what the playoffs are all about," Oshie said.
The spotlight was on Ovechkin and Crosby in their first meeting in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2009. Ovechkin assisted on Oshie's second goal and was denied by Murray on two breakaways, while Crosby was on the ice for three goals against and won 68 percent of his faceoffs.
"I just make stupid plays, stupid moves," Ovechkin said about his failed breakaways. "Thanks God we won this game."
The Capitals won a playoff game that Holtby allowed more than two goals for the first time since Game 5 against the Boston Bruins in 2012. The Vezina Trophy finalist was tested plenty but made a big stop on Phil Kessel in the final minutes of regulation.
Pittsburgh outshot Washington 45-35.
"I thought we did a pretty good job, generated some pretty good chances," Crosby said. "I thought we had some good looks and it was a fast-paced game back and forth, a typical of a game this time of year."
Wide-open hockey led to Burakovsky's rush goal on a rebound 10:13 into the first period and to Lovejoy's similar one 10:40 into the second. That started a run of three goals in 90 seconds, which ended with Oshie's breakaway goal off a turnover by Olli Maatta.
After Oshie's third-period goal, Bonino scored with 10:18 left to help send the game to overtime. That's where Oshie was the hero, much like he was for the United States in the shootout against Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"That was the Olympics wearing the USA jersey — I don't know if I want to rate them, but it's up there," Oshie said. "The puck just went in. It usually doesn't, I guess. I was getting some opportunities and throwing then puck there more than I usually did."
Oshie, traded from the St. Louis Blues to the Capitals last offseason, won for the first time in the playoffs when scoring a goal. This was a huge stage for him to step up on, especially because Washington acquired him to win in the playoffs.
"His work ethic is through the roof," Holtby said. "That shows in these games that he's going to be one of those guys that's really key for us."
NOTES: Penguins F Chris Kunitz was struck in the face by a puck while sitting on the bench in overtime and did not play after that. Coach Mike Sullivan did not know Kunitz's status when asked afterward. ... Capitals D Brooks Orpik returned after missing the final three games of the first round with a concussion. ... Sheary missed a few shifts after taking a knee-on-knee hit from Wilson, which was not penalized.
Stephen Whyno can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/swhyno
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