The Penguins have played five multiple overtime games in their 15 years of existence.
Four of those have ended in victory.
Two of those have seen Simon Despres tally the decisive goals.
Despres tallied at 6:32 of the second overtime in Wednesday night’s epic 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence. The Pens now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, with Games Three and Four scheduled for Friday and Saturday night in Rhode Island.
“I like playing in overtime. It’s big time hockey. That’s why you play hockey,” said the third-year pro after the win. “It just happens that I scored a couple of overtime goals.”
The most recent extra time heroics came two years and six days after Despres put the third longest game in team history to bed. His goal at 12:08 of OT number two on May 8, 2012 against the St. John’s Ice Caps gave the Pens a 3-2 win and extended the series to a sixth game.
And while Wednesday night’s game didn’t have the extra pressure of a potential season coming to an end, it had more than enough excitement for any Penguins fan.
The Pens entered the third period of last night’s contest trailing 2-1. But the Bruins extended their lead to three with scores from Blake Parlett and Alexander Khokhlachev coming in the first 66 seconds of the frame.
A tripping call on Chris Casto gave the Pens their fourth power play of the night, and Tom Kostopoulos – master of the quick score this season – cut the lead to two games with his third goal of the playoffs.
Despres then notched his first of the playoffs at 12:10, using Zach Sill as a screen and beating Niklas Svedberg from long range.
Rookie Conor Sheary, who picked up his first career goal in the Penguins’ 6-1 win in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, scored from close range less than two minutes later to force extra time.
“Nothing to lose, we were down three goals. We just went to the nets, put the pucks on the nets,” Despres said.
“We didn’t have the best game tonight, but we stayed with it. We scored three big goals in the third and we definitely had a lot of momentum.”
The twists and turns continued in overtime, as Kostopoulos was whistled for slashing late in the first bonus round, a penalty that carried over to the second. Adam Payerl was snuffed on breakaway that could have ended the game shortly after that infraction expired, and the teams combined for 34 shots during the two OTs.
Despres ended the game by picking up a rebound at the right point and wristing a shot past Svedberg, who was slow to get across his crease, capping a night of ups and downs for the Pens.
“[The puck] was rolling. I didn’t even look at the net,” Despres said. “I just whipped it at the net, hoping it would bounce.”
“[Despres] wants to be a difference maker in these for sure,” head coach John Hynes said. “He wants to come up with a big play. Sometimes that’s a real strength of his in these overtime games…but it’s also something that you got to control with him a little bit.
“But on a night like tonight, when he comes up with a play like that, it’s great.”
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