Mi­nus Crosby, Pen­guins edge Cap­i­tals to take 3-1 lead

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY WILL GRAVES

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.

AP PHOTO

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.

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