Minus Crosby, Penguins edge Capitals to take 3-1 lead
The Pittsburgh Penguins found a way to survive without injured star Sidney Crosby.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 36 shots and rookie Jake Guentzel took advantage of a fortunate bounce for his playoffleading eighth goal and the defending Stanley Cup champions held off the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Justin Schultz scored in a second straight game and Patric Hornqvist picked up his third of the post-season as Pittsburgh took a 3-1 lead in the series.
The Penguins played without Crosby, who is out indefinitely with a concussion suffered in Game 3.
Pittsburgh has a chance to eliminate the Capitals in Game 5 on Saturday in Washington.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nate Schmidt scored for the Capitals. Braden Holtby finished with 15 saves, but Washington failed to even the series despite controlling play for long stretches.
Matt Niskanen’s shot to Crosby’s jaw early in Game 3 left Crosby concussed and his immediate future uncertain. It also forced his team to figure out a way to survive without one of the game’s most brilliant catalysts while simultaneously trying to reign in their anger at what they considered a dirty hit.
Fleury stressed the Penguins didn’t need to focus on retribution, though Washington prepared for it.
Capitals centre Jay Beagle believed things could get ‘nasty’’ as the series moved forward.
Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel countered that Beagle’s assertion that Niskanen’s shot was “clean’’ made Beagle “an idiot.’’ Beagle suggested the two work out their differences over video games.
It didn’t happen. At least not on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Justin Schultz (4) celebrates his goal with Evgeni Malkin (71) and Phil Kessel (81) during the second period of Game 4 in an NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinal hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Pittsburgh, Wednesday.