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Capitals watch season disappear in blink of an eye

Penguins' Game 6 OT goal 'happened quick,' eliminates top-seeded Washington

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Braden Holtby lay sprawled facedown on the ice, motionless. He, like the rest of the Washington Capitals, couldn't believe what happened. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Nick Bonino had just scored in overtime, eliminating the Capitals from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-3 win in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round.

The Penguins move on to play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference final.

The Capitals, who won the Presidents' Trophy with 120 points in the regular season, rallied from down three goals to force overtime with their season on the line. They were hoping to force Game 7, but in the blink of an eye, it was all over.

After entering the zone with speed, Bonino went behind the net and passed to Phil Kessel in the corner before positioning himself at the post on Holtby's stick side. Kessel fed the puck across the slot to Carl Hagelin.

Capitals defenseman Taylor Chorney couldn't get his stick on Hagelin and fell as Hagelin took the shot. Defenseman Matt Niskanen turned to cover Hagelin because Chorney was down, leaving Bonino wide open.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Holtby, Beagle deny series of chances

Holtby dove to make the save on Hagelin's shot, but the puck squirted loose, and Bonino was in the perfect position to put the rebound into an empty net 6:32 into overtime.

Niskanen was at a loss to explain exactly what happened on the goal.

"It happened quick," he said. "It's a neutral-zone situation, dumped in the corner. They threw it and they changed sides behind the net. Something happened quick. Somehow, somebody got loose. It could have been me. I don't know."

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Bonino buries rebound to clinch series

Holtby said he couldn't key in on who had the puck and went after Hagelin as he one-timed the initial shot. He was down on his stomach and couldn't get to Bonino in time.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz praised the Penguins third line' of Bonino, Kessel and Hagelin after the game. With the teams' top two lines canceling each other out, depth scoring was the difference in the series, and Pittsburgh's third line combined for 18 points in the six games and came through with the series-winning goal.

"Right through the lineup, they've got real good team speed," Trotz said. "Hagelin's exceptional speed. They throw a lot of pucks to let him go 100 feet down the ice and track him down, so yeah, he's a difficult match because of his speed, and Kessel's got great speed and he's got the release, and Bonino's a real underrated player. I thought their forward depth really came through in this for them."

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