Jake Guentzel scored his playoff-leading 10th goal and Matt Murray made 20 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday evened up their NHL Eastern Conference semi-final series with a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals.
Guentzel scored his ninth and 10th goals and now has a league-leading 21 points in the post-season after the Penguins regrouped from Tuesday’s heartbreaking Game 3 loss to level the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
Evgeni Malkin scored the tiebreaking goal — his fourth goal of the NHL playoffs — on a power play late in the second period to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in front of a crowd of 18,600 at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“We played like it is Game 7 tonight for sure,” Malkin said.
Game 5 is to be played in Washington tonight.
T.J. Oshie scored the lone goal for the Capitals while goaltender Braden Holtby made 21 saves.
Holtby tried but failed to stop Malkin’s goal, which proved to be the game-winner. A diving Malkin stabbed at the puck as it sat on the goal line while Holtby attempted to use his blocker as a last line of defense.
Russian forward Malkin thought he had a goal and video replays confirmed that he successfully used his stick to push the puck over the goal line with a desperate dive just before Holtby snatched it back.
Guentzel gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 9 minutes, 21 seconds of the second. Dominik Simon’s shot in the slot was blocked by Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, but Guentzel got the puck and scored near the right post.
Oshie tied it 1-1 at 12 minutes, 55 seconds of the second with a power-play goal and Guentzel scored into an empty to make it 3-1 with 57 seconds left in the third.
The Penguins played without forward Zach Aston-Reese, who suffered a broken jaw and a concussion in Game 3 when he was shoulder-checked in the face by Capitals enforcer Tom Wilson, who was given a three-game suspension.
Washington forward Alex Ovechkin, who is trying to get to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in his career, failed to register a shot on goal for just the third time in 107 career playoff games.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Nashville Predators ended the Jets’ home winning streak with a 2-1 victory that knotted their series at two games apiece.
Predators goalie Pekka Rinne produced 32 saves, stopping all 29 shots he faced at even strength and giving up only a power-play goal to Patrik Laine, who finally broke out of his goal-scoring drought with less than a minute remaining in the contest.
By then, P.K. Subban and Ryan Hartman had scored to put Nashville up 2-0.
The Predators’ Nick Bonino won two face-offs after Laine’s goal to help preserve the win.
Winnipeg had not lost at home since Feb. 27.
The series shifts to Nashville, Tennessee, for Game 5 tonight.
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