WASHINGTON (AP) – Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh goal of the playoffs, Braden Holtby made 32 saves and the Washington Capitals built a lead and this time held on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 in Game 2 on Sunday to even the second-round series.
After blowing a two-goal lead for the third time in these playoffs in Game 1, this time Washington built on it. The Capitals also were the beneficiary of a questionable video review in the third period when the NHL ruled there were no definitive replays showing the puck crossed the goal line on what would have been Pittsburgh’s second goal.
Jakub Vrana scored on the power play and Brett Connolly on a breakaway for the Capitals, who have beaten goaltender Matt Murray glove-side all five of their goals against him through two games. Nicklas Backstrom scored an empty-netter to seal it with 6.1 seconds left, shortly after T.J. Oshie appeared to be injured.
Murray made 18 of his 28 saves in the first period when the Capitals had an onslaught and built their lead.
Holtby robbed Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel with sliding pad saves to on the way to evening the series going into Game 3 Tuesday in Pittsburgh, which could mark the return of Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin. In Malkin’s third consecutive game out of the lineup with an apparent leg injury, Pittsburgh felt his absence as it failed to mount much of an offensive attack beyond the top line of Crosby, Guentzel and Hornqvist.
Crosby and Hornqvist were on the ice for the Penguins’ only goal, Kris Letang scoring from the point through traffic at 4-on-4. The Capitals improved to 2-3 in the playoffs when scoring the first two goals of the game.
Blowing two-goal leads had become a theme for Washington, which made Connolly’s early-second-period goal all that much more important.
Minutes later, Capitals winger Tom Wilson hit Brian Dumoulin in the head as the Penguins defenseman appeared to be pulling up to avoid a check from Ovechkin. Dumoulin left the game and did not return.
No penalty was called on the play, but Wilson could face a suspension considering the contact to Dumoulin’s head and his track record. Dumoulin’s status and Murray’s glove hand are major concerns for the Penguins as the series continues.
NOTES: The Capitals have killed off 22 consecutive penalties. … Ovechkin tied Crosby and Guentzel for the playoff lead in goals. … The Penguins’ streak of road playoff victories ended at six.
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