Los Angeles (AFP) – Jake Guentzel scored his playoff-leading 10th goal and Matt Murray made 20 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins evened up their NHL second-round series with a 3-1 victory Thursday over the Washington Capitals.
American forward Guentzel scored his ninth and 10th goals and now has a league-leading 21 points in the postseason as the Penguins regrouped from Tuesday’s heartbreaking game three loss to level the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
Evgeni Malkin, with his fourth goal of the NHL playoffs, scored the tiebreaking goal on the powerplay 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.
“We played like it is game seven tonight for sure,” said Malkin.
Game five is on Saturday in Washington.
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 defence.
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 9:21 of the second. Dominik Simon’s shot in the slot was blocked by Capitals defenceman Matt Niskanen, but Guentzel got the puck and scored near the right post.
Oshie tied it 1-1 at 12:55 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 three 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, 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. And the Predators’ Nick Bonino won two faceoffs after Laine’s goal to help preserve the win.
Winnipeg hadn’t lost at home since February 27.
The series now shifts to Nashville for game five on Saturday.