WASHINGTON (AP) – Patric Hornqvist, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel scored in a 4:49 span to help the Pittsburgh Penguins rally to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Thursday night in Game 1 of the second-round series.
Down 2-0 early in the third period and playing without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin, Pittsburgh turned it around with all three of its top-line forwards chipping in a goal. Crosby scored the tying goal when the puck bounced to him off Alex Ovechkin’s stick, and assisted on Guentzel’s go-ahead goal.
Matt Murray stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced to put the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champions ahead in yet another series with Game 2 on Sunday in Washington. The Penguins have won nine in a row under coach Mike Sullivan dating to 2016, including the past two meetings against Washington.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 17 seconds in and Ovechkin beat Murray 28 seconds into the third period for the Capitals, who lost a game started by Braden Holtby for the first time in these playoffs. Holtby was one of the best players on the ice in the first two periods before he and his teammates blew another two-goal lead.
Holtby allowed three goals on 25 shots, including at least one he’d like to have back during the Penguins’ comeback. It was his worst game since replacing Philipp Grubauer in net during the first round against Columbus.
It also was another stellar showing by Murray, who made his best save with 2:30 left when he got his stick on a shot by Brett Connolly. Murray earlier kept the puck out against a net-crashing Devante Smith-Pelly and made a save on a point-blank chance by Michal Kempny.
Murray took a shot off the mask from Ovechkin in the third but made save after save down the stretch with the Capitals pressing.
NOTES: Kuznetsov’s goal was the second-fastest in Capitals playoff history after Mike Gartner scored 15 seconds in against the Islanders in 1987. … The Capitals have killed 18 consecutive penalties dating to Game 2 against Columbus. .., Malkin skated Thursday morning with teammates, while Hagelin did not make the trip. Malkin could be an option for Game 2 if his apparent leg injury has healed enough. … Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan opted to maintain balance in his lineup, putting Riley Sheahan with Simon and Phil Kessel and keeping Derick Brassard with Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust.
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