PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with eight goals, but none was quite like the one he scored against the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Thursday.
"I mean, you get pretty lucky sometimes," Guentzel said. "It's pretty crazy."
After entering the Capitals zone in the second period, Guentzel flung the puck toward teammate Carter Rowney, the trailing forward. The pass hit the skate of Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov in the slot and went into the net past goalie Braden Holtby.
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It gave the Penguins a two-goal lead in what would become a 3-2 win that put them one victory from reaching the Eastern Conference Final for the second year in a row. The defending Stanley Cup champions lead this best-of-7 series 3-1 and can end it with a Game 5 win at Washington on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).
Guentzel is the fourth player to score at least eight goals in his first nine NHL playoff games. The others are Maurice Richard (12 for the Montreal Canadiens in 1944), Mario Lemieux (11 for the Penguins in 1989) and Wayne Gretzky (nine for the Edmonton Oilers in 1980-81).
Guentzel also is the first rookie since Brad Marchand to score at least eight goals in a single postseason. Marchand scored 11 for the Boston Bruins in 2011.
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"He has a complete game," Sullivan said of Guentzel. "He can play down low and grind. He's got good hockey sense, he can make plays off the rush. I think he plays with a lot of courage, he's not afraid to go to the net and take a cross-check to bang a rebound or maybe get a stick on a deflection. Jake's a guy that's a real smart player that has the ability to adapt his game based on circumstances."
After giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead 3:51 into the second period, he almost scored again, hitting the post with 4:52 to go in the third.
The 22-year-old did have an assist on Justin Schultz's tiebreaking power-play goal with 8:36 left in the second period, helping the Penguins win their first game without Sidney Crosby, who sustained a concussion in Game 3 and is out indefinitely.
Guentzel, who had 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 40 regular-season games for Pittsburgh, usually plays with Crosby as his center; Thursday it was Nick Bonino.
"We have some difference-makers on our team that can change the outcome of our game in a couple shifts," Sullivan said. "What this coaching staff really admires about our team is really just finding ways to win different ways. I think that says something about the character of our group."