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game recap

Penguins shut out Capitals to win Game 7, reach Eastern Final

Marc-Andre Fleury makes 29 saves to eliminate Washington

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are going back to the Eastern Conference Final, trying to get back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves in a 2-0 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Verizon Center on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh won after losing Games 3, 5 and 6.

"It was a long series against a good team," Fleury said. "They came hard at us till the end, and we're proud of the way we played tonight and the way we handled the pressure and these guys over the series."


[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Penguins highlights | RELATED: Complete Washington vs. Pittsburgh series coverage]


Pittsburgh, the defending Stanley Cup champion, will play the Ottawa Senators in the conference final. Game 1 is at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Braden Holtby made 26 saves for Washington, which has not reached the conference final since 1998.

"You need all 20 guys to win at this time of year. When guys aren't playing great, the other guys [have to] pick them up and someone's got to carry the torch, and tonight we didn't have that," Capitals forward T.J. Oshie said.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm7: Fleury steers aside Ovechkin's drive

Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist scored for the Penguins, who have won six in a row on the road in Game 7.

Rust gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 8:49 of the second period, his first goal of the series after scoring four in a five-game, first-round win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Penguins forward Sidney Crosby, who missed Game 4 after sustaining a concussion in Game 3, had an assist, his 10th.

Hornqvist scored at 4:14 of the third period to make it 2-0 with his fourth of this postseason.

It was Fleury's ninth Stanley Cup Playoff shutout, first this year. He has played every game since starting Game 1 of the first round after Matt Murray was injured during warmups.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm7: Pens, Caps shake hands after Game 7


Goal of the game

Crosby passed to the left circle to Jake Guentzel, who drew the defense and passed to Rust for the first goal.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm7: Rust roofs Guentzel's perfect pass


Save of the game

Holtby lunged out of the crease to stop Crosby's shot and stayed out to deny Guentzel moments later.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm7: Holtby shuts down Crosby, Guentzel


Highlight of the game

After Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Ovechkin failed to clear the Capitals defensive zone, Hornqvist got to the turnover and scored with a backhand.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm7: Hornqvist shovels in a backhand


Unsung performance of the game

Penguins defenseman Ian Cole kept the puck in the offensive zone and passed to Crosby, who gave it to Guentzel for his pass to Rust.


They said it

"I don't know if I can say enough about this group of players. We've been through so much since I've been here. They just always find a way to respond the right way to any of the challenges or the adversities that this league throws at us, and they did it again tonight. I think these guys are at their best when the stakes are high. That might be the best game that we've played in the playoffs to this point, and I thought that was the closest thing to the Penguins identity that we've seen in the playoffs so far." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan


"I thought we did a great job of regrouping. They came hard early on, so I thought we gathered ourselves, [Fleury] made some saves, and for at least the second and third (periods) I thought we were more on our game and on our toes a little bit more. That was probably one of our better games we've played. It's the right time to have that one." -- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby


"A couple of small plays that just bit us. Like early in the series, we had our looks, didn't finish. Fleury was good. We [have] to finish. And I think, you know, in the first few minutes there we came out like a house on fire and it sure would have been nice to pop one there. But, you know, I don't know, that's all I got." -- Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen


Need to know

Ovechkin was minus-2 with four shots on goal. "We didn't execute on our chances. We tried. We tried our best," the Washington captain said. ... The Capitals are 4-11 in Game 7, 3-7 with Ovechkin. … Pittsburgh won its third Game 7 at Washington (1992 Patrick Division Semifinals; 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals). … Fleury is the 10th NHL goalie to get a Game 7 shutout on the road. ... Penguins forward Matt Cullen is 6-0 in Game 7. ... Capitals forward Justin Williams lost a Game 7 for the first time (7-1). ... The Penguins are 9-1 in playoff series against the Capitals, including seven straight series wins dating to the 1995 Conference Quarterfinals. ... Guentzel's assist gave him 14 points (nine goals, five assists) this postseason, setting a Penguins record for a rookie. Jaromir Jagr had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 1991, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ...Murray was Fleury's backup for the first time this postseason. ... Ottawa won its series against the New York Rangers 4-2 in Game 6 on Tuesday.


What's next

Penguins: Game 1 of Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa Senators at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)

Capitals: season over


Video: Pens blank Caps in Game 7, advance to ECF

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