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game recap

Penguins win Game 4 to put Capitals on brink

Marc-Andre Fleury makes 36 saves; Pittsburgh triumphs without center Sidney Crosby

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury might have been the most emotional member of the Pittsburgh Penguins after center Sidney Crosby sustained another concussion.

With the Penguins missing their captain, Fleury excelled again, making 36 saves in a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday.

"[Fleury] has elevated his game at an important time," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender. I think he's showing it."

 

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

 

The Penguins can end the series by winning Game 5 at Washington on Saturday. NHL teams who win Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead have won a best-of-7 series almost 90 percent of the time (210-24), according to Hockey-Reference.com.

Fleury has allowed fewer than three goals in six of his nine starts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has started each game in place of goalie Matt Murray, who was injured during warmups for Game 1 of the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Following practice Tuesday, one day after Crosby was concussed in Game 3, Fleury said he would like the Penguins to see Crosby smile again. On Wednesday, Fleury said Pittsburgh displayed heart.

"Sid's our leader. He's our captain. He's a great player," Fleury said. "You can't replace him, and I thought the guys showed character together as a team. They played well offensively and defensively."

Justin Schultz gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead at 11:24 of the second period with a power-play goal after John Carlson was called for roughing at 10:45.

Patric Hornqvist and Jake Guentzel put Pittsburgh ahead 2-0 before Washington scored two goals 1:12 apart in the second period.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Hornqvist breaks in, roofs wrister

Hornqvist gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead on a breakaway at 4:39 of the first period. Olli Maatta's pass up ice allowed Hornqvist to split defensemen Brooks Orpik and Karl Alzner before quickly stickhandling to freeze Braden Holtby and putting a shot into the upper-right corner of the net.

On Pittsburgh's second goal, Guentzel skated down the near wall before passing the puck toward Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov in front of Holtby. The pass hit Orlov's skate and slid past Holtby to make it 2-0 at 3:51 of the second period.

Evgeny Kuznetsov cut it to 2-1 when he shot from the left circle over Fleury's shoulder at 7:21, and Nate Schmidt tied it 2-2 with a slap shot at 8:33.

Even with Crosby out, Capitals coach Barry Trotz expected the Penguins' best and hoped Washington would respond.

"The Pittsburgh Penguins have played without a number of players all year and you were going to get their best game," Trotz said. "And you needed our best game to beat them. We know that. They stepped up. We had a lot of zone time and we had a lot of chances.

"Fleury was a big player today. … We had some good chances. We didn't bury them and we're sitting here now down 3-1."

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Kuznetsov beats Fleury short side

 

Goal of the game

Schultz one-timed a slap shot past Holtby to break a 2-2 tie. The goal came on Pittsburgh's third of five shots in the second period. The Penguins were outshot 17-5 but maintained a one-goal lead.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Schultz drills PPG past Holtby

 

Save of the game

Fleury preserved the 3-2 lead 9:10 into the third period after Lars Eller spun off Schultz and drove to the net. Eller stickhandled through the crease while Fleury fell forward to spread out and make a pad save.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Fleury extends pad to deny Eller

 

Highlight of the game

Phil Kessel bumped Orlov off the puck before driving in on Holtby with a chance to give Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead. Holtby tracked Kessel, stopped his backhand shot and sat on the puck to freeze it with 3:30 remaining in the second.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Holtby kicks out pad to stone Kessel

 

Unsung performance of the game

The Capitals had a chance to tie it 3-3 when Matt Cullen was given a double minor for high-sticking with 2:00 remaining in the second period. The Penguins' penalty kill survived the first half of the man-advantage to enter intermission with a one-goal lead. Pittsburgh completed the kill when Alex Ovechkin slashed Bryan Rust to nullify the final 1:19 of the power play.

 

They said it

"We know we can be better. We're a resilient group. We know when we go out there and just play. We're a good enough team to win these. It was a battle." -- Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta

 

"We have to forget it and we have to move forward. Every game right now for us is a seventh game, so we have to win three to move forward and I'm pretty sure we're ready for that." -- Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin

 

Need to know

Pittsburgh is 5-4 in the playoffs without Crosby during his NHL career. ... The Penguins moved Guentzel from the first line to the second, where he played with center Nick Bonino and Rust. … The Capitals used seven defensemen for a second straight game. Forward Paul Carey was a healthy scratch.

 

What's next

Game 5 of Eastern Conference Second Round at Verizon Center on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports, SN)

 

Video: Schultz's PPG lifts Pens to 3-2 Game 4 win vs. Caps

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