By Steve Keating
PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Matt Carkner scored seven minutes into the third overtime period to give the Ottawa Senators a marathon 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five of their NHL Eastern Conference playoff series on Thursday.
Trailing the best-of-seven series 3-1, the Senators faced elimination against the Stanley Cup champions but refused to fold and Carkner's goal forced a Game Six back in Ottawa on Saturday.
In the East's other playoff game, Philadelphia pulled off a major upset by eliminating New Jersey with a 3-0 victory on Thursday, wrapping up their series 4-1.
In the Western Conference, Chicago blanked Nashville 3-0 to level their series at two games all, while San Jose hammered Colorado 5-0 to take a 3-2 lead in their series.
With the clock ticking toward midnight in Pittsburgh, Carkner ended the drama nearly five hours after the opening faceoff when his slap shot slipped past Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury to silence the sell-out crowd.
Senators netminder Pascal Leclaire made 56 saves, including 17 in overtime, to record his first career post-season win.
"I don't know how it went in, I didn't really see it," Carkner told reporters. "I just saw Alfie's (Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson) face and he started skating toward me.
"It was definitely the biggest goal of my career but we still have a lot of work to do."
The Senators have never come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series but that is the task in front of them if they are to advance.
"There was a lot of drama, I'm sure the fans liked that one," said Ottawa coach Cory Clouston. "All we wanted to do was give ourselves a chance, our whole focus now is the next game.
"We know it's a tough task but I think we've gained some confidence and momentum off this."
The Penguins pulled level late in the second period on a disputed goal from Chris Kunitz.
The goal was initially waved off when the net appeared to come off its moorings but after a lengthy video review it was ruled good, sending the teams into the second intermission deadlocked at 2-2.
There was no mistaking the quality of Sidney Crosby's fifth goal of the playoffs, however, the Pittsburgh captain swiping home a loose puck as he was being knocked to the ice to give the Penguins their first lead of the game.
The Senators, however, refused to go quietly and Peter Regin's blast from the slot zipped by Fleury's outstretched glove to force overtime.
Early into overtime, Ottawa's Nick Foligno had a goal disallowed when video judges ruled he had directed the puck into the net with his skate.
"It will be great challenge for both teams to reset emotionally," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. "We have to get our mindset right and get ready to go back to Ottawa."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)