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Pens/Caps Game 4 Recap: Hornqvist OT goal gives Pittsburgh 3-1 series lead

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The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals engage in an epic battle of wills in Game 4, which leads to an overtime goal by Patric Hornqvist to push the Pens to a 3-1 series lead

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Game 4 Washington Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins

Lineups

Mike Weber is in for Nate Schmidt for the Caps.

Justin Schultz in for the suspended Kris Letang and Oskar Sundqvist gets a spot in place of the injured Eric Fehr.

The Highlights

First Period

Jay Beagle scores way early by lifting a rolling puck on his backhand over Matt Murray from a tough angle. 1-0 Washington and not the start that the Pens needed.

Not long after, the Penguins get a glorious scoring chance. Evgeni Malkin dazzles in the offensive zone, passes the puck over to Justin Schultz. The puck flips up, Schultz tries to bat it out of mid-air but it hits the post. Bryan Rust gets a swing at the bouncing puck with an empty net, he barely misses. The puck eventually gets to Malkin and his rushed attempt goes right into Rust's skate, the only obstacle to the back of the net.

The Pens would strike back not long after when Sidney Crosby passes Patric Hornqvist into open space. The Washington D falls back and Hornqvist leaves the puck for Trevor Daley. Daley puts a puck off net that strikes Karl Alzner , but this time takes a fortunate Penguin twist and slides right under Crosby (who maybe touches it, maybe doesn't, who knows, who cares) and by Braden Holtby.

Carl Hagelin (big, bad man) bumps T.J. Oshie so hard his head almost flies off his shoulders. Hagelin would get a 2-minute minor for interference.

The Pens kill the penalty and Hagelin gets out of the box and blows past Matt Niskanen and drives to the net. Dmitry Orlov then decides to knock Hagelin into Holtby. Barry Trotz yelled at the referee after this (Niskanen got the only penalty), probably about their favoritism towards the Pens. After all, Hagelin is just a one-man wrecking crew out there at this point.

Second Period

Pittsburgh strikes first, Matt Cullen and Nicklas Backstrom lock up for a faceoff, nice job by Sundqvist to win the puck back. Cullen dogs out Backstrom and races to the net, gets the puck and beats Holtby 5-hole. 2-1 Pens.

The Caps get it back though, really tough sequence for Derrick Pouliot here and John Carlson makes them pay with a great shot over the glove of Murray from in close. 2-2.

Third Period

Caps go to working grinding down the Pittsburgh defense, the loss of Letang is showing now but the Pens hold early.

Crosby has to go to the locker-room following a slash from Ovechkin but returns to the ice a few minutes later.

With about 9 minutes to go, Cullen rockets down the ice, drags the puck around Niskanen and fires a shot -- off the cross-bar. So close, yet so far.

Penguins get a power play with 3 minutes left when Alzner high-sticks Crosby. They don't get a shot on goal. Disappointing to say the least and the game goes to extra time.

Overtime

Great sequence by the Pens. Dumoulin does well to keep the puck in. Conor Sheary throws a weak puck to the net that Mike Weber totally flubs right to the stick of Patric Hornqvist. Game!

OH HELL YEAH

Some Thoughts

  • Some crazy bounces early. First the Schultz-Rust-Malkin fail to score but then Daley's shot goes off Alzner, Crosby avoids taking it off path and it ends up in the net.
  • Malkin and Rust had some mojo working early, nice to see the two of them together make some plays in the offensive zone.
  • Interesting wrinkle by the Pens- to use Matt Cullen in the defensive zone as a center and Malkin on the wing, then after the draw, Cullen gets to the bench for Rust and Malkin shifts back to center. Malkin needs more TOI and more d-zone starts but he's the worst faceoff center on the team (and had an arm injury recently). No matter the reason, nice to see some creativity.
  • 4 minor penalties (2 for each team) called in the last 4-minutes-and-change of the first period. Refs were trying to keep this one on a short leash and under control.
  • Pens were great in the second period to allow no shots on goal in the first 8+ minutes, and only 3 in the first 15 minutes. Letang is a key player, but they found a way to manage his loss here with a team-based game.
  • Every whistle, a scrum. hands to the faces. Anger. Rage. Not much restraint in this series right now.
  • Matt Cullen da best.
  • After giving up a fairly weak goal early (though it was a rolling puck, no angle and sort of lucky), Murray really buckled down only allowing 1 more goal in the next 60 minutes.
  • Daley and Brian Dumoulin did a masterful job on the Backstrom/Ovechkin line.
  • Daley in particular played an overwhelming amount of minutes and did very well with it. What a gem.
  • Pens had a chance to win the game with the late power play and laid an egg. Brutal stuff there.
  • So ironic that Weber - a neanderthal player slotting in for Nate Schmidt (after a couple bad plays last game) ends up making the mistake to cost the Caps the game. After all the talk that the Pens defense was too weak, it would be Washington that made the critical mistake.
  • Hornqvist!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • This game snaps an 8 game playoff OT losing streak for the Penguins.

Huge win, no other way to describe it. The Penguins have beaten the league's best team 3 times in a row, and have only lost in overtime in Game 1. They get the chance to close 'em out (no easy feat) on Saturday with an extra day of rest and their best defenseman back. What a time to be alive.