PITTSBURGH (AP) – Patric Hornqvist beat Braden Holtby between the legs 2:31 into overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the second-round series.
Washington’s Mike Weber tried to clear a shot, but the puck went right to Hornqvist in the circle. He buried it for his fifth goal of the postseason to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 5 is Saturday night in Washington.
The Penguins ended an eight-game losing streak in overtime playoff games.
Matt Cullen and Trevor Daley also scored for Pittsburgh, and rookie goalie Matt Murray stopped 34 shots.
Penguins captain Crosby left briefly in the third period after getting slashed by Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.
Jay Beagle and John Carlson scored for Washington. Holtby made 29 saves, but the Capitals dropped a third straight game, something they did once all season.
The Capitals dominated Game 3 everywhere but the scoreboard, falling 3-2 behind a spectacular 47-save performance by Murray. Washington coach Barry Trotz insisted there was “a good vibe” coming from the President’s Trophy winners, pointing to the way his team tilted the ice as proof the results would come if the Capitals kept at it.
The Penguins realized they were lucky to escape Game 3 with the series lead and responded with a far better performance even with star defenseman Kris Letang forced to sit out after the league ruled his hit on Marcus Johansson on Monday night was late and illegal.
The suspension forced Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan to return Justin Schultz to the lineup. The Penguins acquired Schultz from Edmonton in February and he hadn’t played since Game 1 of the opening playoff series against the Rangers. Schultz was steady as were most of his teammates, who were far better at protecting their rookie goaltender than they were 48 hours earlier.
Still, Washington needed just 2:58 to take its first lead since Game 1 as Beagle beat Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy to the puck on a dump in and flipped a backhander Murray’s way despite being nearly parallel to the goal line. The shot sailed over Murray’s shoulders and into the far top corner.
Daley’s first playoff goal in nearly two years tied it later in the period, as his shot from the top of the right circle deflected off Washington’s Karl Alzner and by Holtby. The 39-year-old Cullen, playing between a pair of forwards – Tom Kuhnhackl and Oskar Sundqvist – who were born when Cullen was well into his teens, put Pittsburgh in front by taking a stretch pass off the boards from Brian Dumoulin and beating Holtby between the legs.
The goal was part of perhaps Pittsburgh’s best period since Game 2 but the Penguins couldn’t escape it with the lead. Justin Williams stripped Derrick Pouliot deep in the Pittsburgh zone and slipped it across the ice to Carlson, who had little trouble firing it over Murray’s extended glove set the stage for the latest dramatic moment in a series that is living up to its considerable hype.
NOTES: Pittsburgh went 0 for 4 on the power play and is 0 for 14 with the man advantage during the series. … The Capitals scratched D Nate Schmidt, who struggled in Game 3. … Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole watched from the front row next to the Washington bench and was caught on camera good-naturedly yelling at the Capitals before being chastised by an usher.
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