The Pens run for 3 straight Stanley Cups comes up short as they fall to the Capitals in overtime in Game 6 2-1!!!

Caps drop Penguins in OT to advance to conference finals
By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Evgeny Kuznetsov’s breakway goal 5:27 into overtime gave the Washington Capitals a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 on Monday night, and a berth in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 20 years.
Kuznetsov took a lead pass from Alexander Ovechkin and tucked the puck by Matt Murray to end Pittsburgh’s two-year reign as Stanley Cup champions and propel the Capitals into the NHL’s final four for just the third time in franchise history.
Braden Holtby stopped 21 shots for the Capitals, who will face Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals. Alex Chiasson scored his first playoff goal in four years during a taut, tight contest through regulation.
Kris Letang scored for the Penguins and Murray finished with 28 saves but couldn’t close his legs fast enough to stop Kuznetsov’s forehand flick from in close as Pittsburgh’s bid at becoming the first team in 35 years to win three consecutive Cups came to an abrupt end.
The Capitals played without center Nicklas Backstrom, who was scratched due to a right hand injury suffered in the third period of Washington’s Game 5 victory. Forward Tom Wilson also sat for a third straight game while serving a suspension for an illegal hit on Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese in Game 2.
Washington spent the series saying its forgettable playoff history littered with squandered leads and blown opportunities — particularly against the Penguins — is not a factor. That this time is different. That this team is different. Twice the Capitals rallied in the third period to stun Pittsburgh, including a four-goal outburst in Game 5 that pushed them to the brink of their first Eastern Conference finals appearance in 20 years.
That last step, however, has always been tricky. Four times previously during the Ovechkin Era the Capitals won three games in the second round only to come up short in Game 7.
The Penguins, by contrast, have been impossible to finish off since head coach Mike Sullivan took over in December 2015. Pittsburgh came in 4-0 in elimination games under Sullivan, including a 2-0 victory in Game 7 in Washington last spring on its way to a second straight title.
The stakes led to an unusually slow start for both before the Capitals broke through 2:13 into the second when Walker held off Pittsburgh’s Derick Brassard behind the Pittsburgh net and fed Chiasson in the right circle. Chiasson’s shot slipped under Murray’s left arm for his second career playoff goal and first in more than four years when he played for Dallas.
The deficit, however, hardly appeared to stoke the Penguins. Instead they continued to plod along, staying only one goal behind thanks in large part to the play of Murray. He stuffed Jakub Vrana on a breakaway to keep Pittsburgh’s hole from getting any larger and at about the game’s midway point, Sullivan had seen enough. He reshuffled the lines — putting Patric Hornqvist alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin alongside Phil Kessel — and the energy shifted immediately.
The score soon followed.
Crosby won a faceoff in the offensive zone and fed it to Letang, whose shot from the point Washington’s Chandler Stephenson and slipped by Holtby 11:52 into the second to tie it and set the stage for more drama in a series and a rivalry that continues to one-up itself spring after spring.
NOTES: Washington forward Andre Burakovsky missed his 10th straight game with an upper-body injury. … Crosby’s assist pushed his career playoff total to 185, tied with Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman for 10th most all-time. … Walker’s assist was the first ever in the playoffs by an Australian.
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Guentzel scores twice in a 3-1 victory, Penguins even series with Capitals

Guentzel scores twice, Penguins even series with Capitals
By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jake Guentzel scored twice to push his playoff total to a league-leading 10, Matt Murray stopped 20 shots and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 3-1 in Game 4 to even their tense Eastern Conference semifinal on Thursday night.
Evgeni Malkin added his fourth goal of the playoffs for Pittsburgh as the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions pushed back following a chaotic Game 3 that included an illegal hit by Washington forward Tom Wilson that led to a three-game suspension.
T.J. Oshie scored for the Capitals, but Washington struggled to find much operating room. Alex Ovechkin failed to register a shot on goal for just the third time in 107 career playoff games. Braden Holtby finished with 21 saves but couldn’t quite get a handle on Malkin’s belly-flop shot attempt late in the second period that put Pittsburgh in front to stay.
Game 5 is Saturday night in Washington.
The Capitals grabbed brief control of the series amid all of the Wilson-led Game 3 chippiness when Ovechkin baseball-batted home the winning goal with 1:07 to play. True playoff momentum for Washington, however, has been problematic for decades. The franchise is 6-11 in series in which it led 2-1 after three games, the worst mark in NHL history.
Given a chance to push Pittsburgh to the brink of elimination, Washington instead struggled to generate much pressure outside of the power play. Devante Smith-Pelly replaced Wilson on the top line with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, but Pittsburgh kept the clamps on, and Murray, who admitted he was “shaky” in Game 3, looked far steadier this time around.
Wilson’s absence brought a sense of normalcy. The vitriol calmed a bit, replaced by the taut intensity that’s come to define one of the NHL’s marquee rivalries.
Guentzel gave the Penguins the lead 9:21 into the second period when he stood on the doorstep and banged home a rebound of Dominik Simon’s shot for his ninth of the playoffs and his 20th point of the postseason. Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier in 1988 are the last two players to reach 20 points in 10 or fewer postseason games.
The 23-year-old, however, is still learning. He committed a slashing penalty after putting the Penguins in front, and Oshie’s shot from the slot 12:55 into the second tied it.
Malkin went to his belly to put Pittsburgh back in front with 2:33 to go in the second. The Russian star flung himself at the puck during a scrum in the crease, the puck just flitting over the goal line following a scramble. There was no initial goal call on the play, reminiscent of a sequence in Game 2 in which the red goal light remained unlit after Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist jabbed at it from in front.
Replays in Game 2 proved inconclusive and the Capitals held on. This time, the review was kinder to the Penguins. Video clearly showed the puck inching across the line, and it stood after the Capitals challenged due to goalie interference.
Unlike Game 3, in which the Penguins let a one-goal lead get away over the final 20 minutes, Guentzel added an empty-netter with 58 seconds remaining to assure the series will go at least six games. Hardly new territory for either club. Nine of their 11 playoff meetings have gone at least six games.
NOTES: Pittsburgh F Carl Hagelin played 16:11 while wearing a full face shield in his return from an upper-body injury that forced him to miss the first three games of the series. … The Capitals have scored a playoff goal in nine of 10 playoff games. … The loss was Washington’s first on the road in the playoffs (4-1). … The Capitals were 1 for 3 on the power play. The Penguins were 2 for 4.
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Capital’s Wilson suspended 3 games for breaking Aston-Reese jaw!!!

Capitals forward Tom Wilson suspended 3 games
NEW YORK (AP) — The NHL has suspended Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson three games for an illegal hit on Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese.
The league announced the suspension on Wednesday night, a day after Wilson broke Aston-Reese’s jaw with a violent collision near the Washington bench in the second period of Washington’s 4-3 Game 3 victory over the Penguins.
Aston-Reese was stickhandling near the Capitals bench when Wilson drilled the rookie with his left shoulder. The force propelled Wilson up into the Washington bench while Aston-Reese lay on the ice for several moments before skating off. He was later diagnosed with a concussion and a broken jaw.
While Wilson was not penalized during the game, the league’s Department of Player Safety called for a hearing. The league noted that Aston-Reese’s head was the main point of contact and that the hit was avoidable in announcing the suspension.
Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
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