Capitals hold on to lead this time, beat Penguins in Game 2
WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh goal of the playoffs, Braden Holtby made 32 saves and the Washington Capitals built a lead and this time held on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 in Game 2 on Sunday to even the second-round series. After blowing a two-goal lead for the third time in these playoffs in Game 1, this time Washington built on it. The Capitals also were the beneficiary of a questionable video review in the third period when the NHL ruled there were no definitive replays showing the puck crossed the goal line on what would have been Pittsburgh’s second goal. Jakub Vrana scored on the power play and Brett Connolly on a breakaway for the Capitals, who have beaten goaltender Matt Murray glove-side all five of their goals against him through two games. Nicklas Backstrom scored an empty-netter to seal it with 6.1 seconds left, shortly after T.J. Oshie appeared to be injured. Murray made 18 of his 28 saves in the first period when the Capitals had an onslaught and built their lead. Holtby robbed Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel with sliding pad saves to on the way to evening the series going into Game 3 Tuesday in Pittsburgh, which could mark the return of Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin. In Malkin’s third consecutive game out of the lineup with an apparent leg injury, Pittsburgh felt his absence as it failed to mount much of an offensive attack beyond the top line of Crosby, Guentzel and Hornqvist. Crosby and Hornqvist were on the ice for the Penguins’ only goal, Kris Letang scoring from the point through traffic at 4-on-4. The Capitals improved to 2-3 in the playoffs when scoring the first two goals of the game. Blowing two-goal leads had become a theme for Washington, which made Connolly’s early-second-period goal all that much more important.
PREDATORS 5, JETS 4, 2OT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kevin Fiala scored 5:37 into double overtime, and the Nashville Predators beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-4 on Sunday night in Game 2 to even the Western Conference semifinal series. The Presidents’ Trophy winners had the NHL’s best road record during the regular season, but the Predators got the split they needed before this series switches to Winnipeg for Game 3 on Tuesday night. That’s where the Jets posted the league’s best home record. Craig Smith and Fiala skated up on a 2-on-1, and Jets defenseman Byflugien failed to block Smith’s cross-ice pass to Fiala who beat goalie Connor Hellebuyck with a backhander. Ryan Johansen scored two goals, Viktor Arvidsson had a goal and two assists, and P.K. Subban had a goal and an assist as Nashville won both its 100th postseason game as a franchise and coach Peter Laviolette’s 50th with the team. Filip Forsberg also had three primary assists for the first time in the postseason in his career. Mark Scheifele scored two goals and had an assist. Byflugien had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Tanev had a goal for Winnipeg. Tanev tied it at 3, putting the puck past Pekka Rinne’s right skate at 5:11 of the third. Johansen answered 34 seconds later, skating around Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom and beating Hellebuyck hight. But Scheifele forced overtime with his fourth goal in this series and eighth this postseason with 1:05 left in regulation and Hellebuyck pulled for the extra attacker.
Washington Capitals right wing Brett Connolly (10) celebrates his goal during the second period in Game 2 of an NHL second-round hockey playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.