Penguins OT win puts Capitals on the ropes

Patric Hornqvist scored 2:34 into overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins captured Game 4 against the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Wednesday night, and now lead the second-round series 3-1.

Hornqvist grabbed hold of a blocked point shot, beating Braden Holtby for the game winner.

Trevor Daley and Matt Cullen also scored for the Penguins. Jay Beagle and John Carlson found the back of the net for the Capitals.

Matt Murray stopped 34-of-36 shots, while Holtby surrendered three goals on 33 shots at the other end.

Pittsburgh won despite playing without top defenceman Kris Letang, who was serving a one-game suspension for his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3.

Each of the first four games of the series has been decided by a goal.

Series tensions heating up

An increasingly testy series started with two odd goals, the first from Washington.

Scooping up a puck dumped deep into the corner of the Penguins zone, Beagle flipped an innocent-looking backhand over the left shoulder of Murray. The puck, shot far-side, pinged right out of the goal, almost catching the Consol Energy Center crowd off guard.

The Penguins evened the score at one with a weird one of their own a few minutes later. Shortly after Justin Schultz hit a post for the Penguins, Daley send a shot from the point that was initially blocked by Capitals defenceman Karl Alzner before skipping off the ice and under the pads of Holtby.

Sidney Crosby, charging hard to the net, provided the screen, also landing an assist on the play. It was the first point of the series for the Penguins captain, who had eight points in the opening round against New York.

Momentum gathered for the home side before the action turned sour.

Swedish winger Carl Hagelin was at the centre of things. Hagelin first dished a hit on a puck-less T.J. Oshie, for which he was penalized. Then he rolled over Holtby when he raced in for a scoring chance out of the penalty box. Hagelin happened to be bowled over on the drive by Capitals defenceman Dmitry Orlov, a fact that eluded the angry visitors.

Later in the opening frame Alex Ovechkin whistled a shot at Murray that was stopped easily. The Washington captain went over to whisper a quick word in the 21-year-old's ear, a move that drew a shove from veteran Penguin Chris Kunitz.

The Penguins surged in the second, grabbing the lead less than four minutes in on Cullen's third of the playoffs. The 39-year-old managed to get a step on Capitals top-line centre Nicklas Backstrom off a centre-ice faceoff, rushing in partially alone on Holtby before slipping a shot between the pads.

All the momentum through the first half of the second belonged to the Penguins. Washington didn't land its first shot of the period until more than eight and a half minutes had passed.

Both goalies were sharp throughout. Coming off his worst post-season performance on Monday (three goals on 23 shots), Holtby stopped 18-of-19 shots over the final 40 minutes, matched closely by Murray, who turned down 17 of the last 18 in regulation.

Murray was beaten with less than four minutes to go in the second by Carlson, the Capitals leading scorer in the playoffs capitalizing on an error by 21-year-old Derrick Pouliot. Pouliot over-skated the puck along the boards in the Penguins zone, freeing Justin Williams to scoop it up and find Carlson cross-ice.

It was the fourth goal of the post-season for Carlson, who leads the Capitals with 10 playoff points.

Pouliot was in the lineup only by necessity. The Saskatchewan native replaced an injured Olli Maatta for Game 3 on Monday night, his first ever NHL playoff game. He was joined in Game 4 by Schultz, who filled in for the suspended Letang in what was his second career playoff game.

Daley was forced to shoulder the biggest load with Letang out. The 32-year-old, tasked with combating the Capitals top line alongside Brian Dumoulin, had 28:41 of ice time..

Crosby leaves for a few minutes after slash

Crosby, meanwhile, endured a scary moment early in the third. The 29-year-old was slashed in the left hand by Ovechkin, quickly heading to the Penguins dressing room. Crosby slashed his stick along the tunnel repeatedly in frustration before returning to the bench a few minutes later.

Pittsburgh failed to score on four power-play opportunities and is now 0-14 in the series. The Capitals penalty kill is 37-for-38 in the playoffs.

Daniel Winnik was forced to exit the action midway through the second period after he was drilled along the wall in the Capitals zone by Malkin. He did not return.

The series continues with Game 5 in Washington on Saturday.

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