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Penguins eliminate Capitals with Game 6 OT win

Pittsburgh advances to play Tampa Bay in Eastern Conference Final

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins surrendered a three-goal lead to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, helped in part by three consecutive delay of game penalties, including one on center Nick Bonino.

But it was Bonino's goal 6:32 into overtime that gave the Penguins a 4-3 win and eliminated the Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Consol Energy Center.

"It's the best feeling in the game right there, to win a series and have your teammates around you," Bonino said. "I can't put it into words right now. I still have chills, a little bit."

Forward Phil Kessel sent a pass to Carl Hagelin in the slot. Bonino collected a rebound and backhanded it into the net past goalie Braden Holtby to end the season of the Presidents' Trophy winners.

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

The Penguins won the best-of-7-series 4-2 and advance to play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. Pittsburgh last made the conference final in 2013, when it was swept by the Boston Bruins.

"I think if you play this late into the year, there's going to be adversity and you've got to overcome it," Bonino said. "We play Tampa [Bay] next and they've done the same thing. They're playing without two or three of their best players and that's going to be a good series."

The Penguins led 3-0 late in the second period, but Capitals defenseman John Carlson tied it 3-3 with a one-time slap shot on a 5-on-3 power play with 6:59 remaining in the third.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Carlson blasts home PPG to tie it

Leading 3-2, Pittsburgh was called for three delay of game penalties within 2:02 to give Washington two 5-on-3 power plays, one for 54 seconds and one for 1:04. The Penguins had just killed the first 5-on-3 when defenseman Ian Cole sent the puck over the glass, after forward Chris Kunitz and Bonino did the same previously.

Cole said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby gave a speech following the third period that helped Pittsburgh refocus.

"Sid said, 'Guys, we still have a game here,'" Cole said. "'We're still in a decent spot. We want to finish it out, everybody knows that, but we can't stop playing. We can't just fold this game. We're still in a great spot. One more goal and this game's over. What's the past is the past. You can't do anything about it now.'"

Cole said coach Mike Sullivan echoed Crosby's message. Sullivan said he was proud of Pittsburgh's resiliency.

"I've never seen it in all the years I've been around the game, I'll tell you that," Sullivan said. "Three delay of game penalties right in a row like that. That's a tough one to swallow, you know? And I thought our guys battled hard through it."

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Kessel, Hagelin each score PPGs

With the Capitals trailing 3-0 and Kunitz in the penalty box for tripping, T.J. Oshie scored his fifth goal of the series with 1:30 remaining in the second period.

Justin Williams pulled the Capitals within 3-2 when he scored 7:23 into the third period. The goal was Williams' third in his past four games; he has 14 goals in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff elimination games.

With the Penguins leading 1-0 in the second period, Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik, who returned from a three-game suspension, received a double-minor penalty for high-sticking Patric Hornqvist at 6:25. Pittsburgh took advantage by scoring twice in 33 seconds.

Kessel scored his second goal of the game 7:05 into the second. Defenseman Kris Letang found Kessel in the left circle, where he deked through Capitals defensemen Matt Niskanen and Taylor Chorney before dragging a shot around Holtby's left pad.

Hagelin extended the lead to 3-0 when he deflected a shot from defenseman Olli Maatta past Holtby at 7:38. Maatta was playing for the first time since being injured by Orpik in Game 2.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Kessel fires wrister past Holtby

Kessel made it 1-0 5:41 into the first period. He drove down the far wall before shooting through Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner's legs and Holtby's five-hole for his fourth goal.

The goal was Kessel's first since April 23, when he scored midway through the first period of a 6-3, series-deciding Game 5 win against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round.

"I'm happy to be here," Kessel said. "We have a great group here."

Alzner exited the game with an apparent injury after playing 4:09 in the first period. He returned to start the second period but played two shifts before leaving a second time.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Williams roofs one over Murray

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Alzner had been injured for some time. Holtby said Alzner's absence significantly impacted Washington.

"I think if you ask most guys on our team, if there's one guy we can't lose, it's him," Holtby said. "He's our best penalty killer. Every time, that showed. They got a couple power-play goals, and it's tough, but we battled through it to give ourselves a chance."

Before taking questions following the game, Trotz took time to congratulate the Penguins.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Oshie blasts PPG as he falls

"[Pittsburgh is] a super hockey team," he said. "It was a good series and I wish them all the best going forward. I think they did a terrific job down the stretch being the hottest team in the National Hockey League and that carried over into the playoffs. I think they have a shot at it."

Washington (56-18-8, 120 points) had the best record in the NHL by 11 points over the Dallas Stars and were favored to win the Stanley Cup. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin completed his 11th NHL season without reaching a conference final.

"It's a missed opportunity and another game that's the last shot," Ovechkin said. "I'm proud of my team, proud of my teammates. I'm proud of this group no matter what happened, but, again, we lost in the second round, so it [stinks]."

Video: Bonino's OT winner in Game 6 sends Penguins to ECF

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