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Instant analysis: Capitals at Penguins, Game 4

Pittsburgh takes 3-1 series lead without Letang, Maatta

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 in overtime in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday.

The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 3-1.

Patric Horvqvist scored the winning goal 2:34 into overtime, beating Braden Holtby from the right circle.

A sharp-angle goal from Jay Beagle gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 2:58 into the first period, but the Penguins tied it on a Trevor Daley shot that deflected in off Washington defenseman Karl Alzner at 9:16 of the first.

Matt Cullen scored on a breakaway 3:07 into the second period to put the Penguins ahead 2-1 before Capitals defenseman John Carlson tied it 2-2 with 3:41 left in the second.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Cullen goes five-hole to give Pens lead

What we learned: The Penguins were missing two of their top four defensemen with Kris Letang suspended and Olli Maatta sidelined with an upper-body injury, but played well without them. However, a turnover by defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who replaced Maatta in the lineup, led to Carlson's tying goal.

The Capitals did a better job of working the Penguins shorthanded defense in the third period. With Andre Burakovsky rejoining Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams in the second period, the Capitals' second line had its best game of the series controlling the puck and generating scoring chances.

The Penguins power play, which was 0-for-4 Wednesday (0-for-14 in series), was unable to solve the Capitals penalty kill (37-for-38 in playoffs).

What this means for the Capitals: After winning the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top team during the regular season, they have lost their past three games and are one loss away from falling short of reaching the Eastern Conference Final again. Their last trip to the conference final was in 1998.

What this means for the Penguins: By winning without Letang, the Penguins moved one victory from their first Eastern Conference Final appearance since 2013. They'll look to close the series Saturday in Washington with Letang back in their lineup.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Hornqvist wins Game 4 for Pens in OT

Key moment: Hornqvist scored the overtime winner after Capitals defenseman Mike Weber was unable to handle the puck in the slot. Weber, who was inserted into the lineup to replace healthy scratch Nate Schmidt, intercepted Conor Sheary's pass but was unable to control it and knocked it directly to Hornqvist.

Unsung player of the game: With Letang and Maatta out, Daley scored his first goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and played a Penguins-high 28:41.

What's next: Game 5 is at Verizon Center on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

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