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game recap

Penguins win Game 4 early in OT against Capitals

Hornqvist scores to give Pittsburgh 3-1 lead in second-round series

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Patric Hornqvist put the Pittsburgh Penguins one win away from the Eastern Conference Final. And he pushed the Washington Capitals one loss from an early offseason.

Hornqvist scored 2:34 into overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win against the Capitals in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday.

The Penguins took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series and can advance with a victory in Game 5 at Verizon Center in Washington on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

After Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin managed to keep the play alive along the blue line, Conor Sheary's shot was mishandled by Capitals defenseman Mike Weber, who one-handed it right to Hornqvist for a shot between goalie Braden Holtby's legs.

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

"They're a good defensive team and it's the playoffs, it's hard to get scoring chances," Hornqvist said. "But when we get them, we score, and that's part of why we win the game. … In the overtime, you need to take pucks to the net. That's how you create momentum."

Hornqvist leads the Penguins with five goals in nine Stanley Cup Playoff games. Coach Mike Sullivan said he appreciates Hornqvist's willingness to do "the thankless jobs," such as going to the net.

"It's hard not to love this guy," Sullivan said. "He just loves hockey. He loves being around it. He loves to compete. He's full of energy. He wears his emotions right on his sleeve, sometimes to a fault, but we love him."

Each of the four games in the series has been decided by one goal, including two in overtime. The Capitals, who had the best record in the NHL during the regular season, have lost five of their past seven games.

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

They will try to become the 29th team (out of 290) to win a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series after trailing 3-1. Washington has lost five series when holding that lead, including last year to the New York Rangers in the second round. Pittsburgh has blown such a lead three times, most recently against the Rangers in 2014, also in the second round.

"This team has awesome character," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. "Last year, obviously we were winning 3-1 and lost the series, so we have to take it as experience and turn it around in our way. … Overall, I think we have to play our game."

Penguins rookie goalie Matt Murray made 34 saves for his sixth win in seven playoff starts.

"I definitely think I feel a little more and more comfortable and a little better and better the more that I play," Murray said. "I made a couple mistakes here and there. I got lucky a couple of times, but I'm pretty happy with my game today and I thought I competed really hard."

After a 3-2 loss here in Game 3 on Monday, Washington coach Barry Trotz said he was pleased with the Capitals' effort. He had a similar message two days later.

"That's why it's sudden death. That's what it feels like," Trotz said. "We'll just have to live with it. This group has dealt with a lot of things. I think they've handled adversity pretty well all year, so they'll have to do it again."

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Carlson roofs goal to even game at 2

Washington defenseman John Carlson tied the game 2-2 with 3:41 remaining in the second period. Justin Williams stripped Pittsburgh defenseman Derrick Pouliot of the puck along the far wall before finding Carlson alone in the right circle, where he shot past Murray for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Matt Cullen gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead 3:07 into the period. After the puck was pushed into the Washington zone, Cullen outraced Nicklas Backstrom before shooting through Holtby's five-hole.

Cullen, Pittsburgh's 39-year-old fourth-line center, almost scored 10:59 into the third period, when his shot hit the crossbar.

Jay Beagle gave Washington a 1-0 lead when he beat Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy to a puck off the end boards. Beagle drove through the offensive zone and reached the puck just as it crossed back over the goal line to backhand a sharp-angle shot into the upper-right corner of the net 2:58 into the first period.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Beagle lifts his backhand shot into net

The goal gave Washington its first lead since its 4-3 overtime win in Game 1.

Pittsburgh tied it 1-1 at 9:16 on a goal by Trevor Daley. Sidney Crosby battled with Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen in front of the crease, allowing Daley's slap shot to sneak past Holtby after bouncing off Karl Alzner.

Crosby got his first point of the series with the secondary assist; he was pointless in three consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 10-15.

Pittsburgh played without defenseman Kris Letang, who served a one-game suspension for interference against Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in Game 3. The Penguins went 2-8-1 without Letang during the regular season.

Washington was without defenseman Brooks Orpik, who served the second of a three-game suspension for interference against Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta in Game 2. Maatta was injured on that play and also did not play Wednesday.

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