Ovechkin lifts Capitals over Pittsburgh as Wilson hit enrages Pens

Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals flips the puck past Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the game winning goal as Washington won 4-3 to take a 2-1 series lead

Los Angeles (AFP) – Alex Ovechkin scored the game-winner with 1:07 left to play Tuesday as the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 to gain the upper hand in their NHL playoff series.

Ovechkin knocked his own rebound out of midair and past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray to lift the Capitals to a victory that gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round series against the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

With the win, Washington regained home-ice advantage against the team that has eliminated them in each of the past two seasons.

“This was a big win — it was tough sledding out there,” said Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen, who tied the game with a goal 5:06 into the third period after the Caps had trailed 2-1.

But the Penguins were infuriated by another high hit from Washington winger Tom Wilson — a shoulder-to-head hit in the second period that left Zach Aston-Reese with a broken jaw and a concussion although no penalty was called on the play.

Braden Holtby made 19 saves for his sixth win in seven starts this post-season.

After John Carlson gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 48 seconds into the second period, Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist scored less than three minutes apart to put the Penguins up 2-1.

Chandler Stephenson scored from the left face-off circle on a one-timer at 11:04 of the second period to make it 2-2.

Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead at 16:27 of the second period, and Niskanen tied it 3-3 when his slap shot bounced off Murray’s glove and that set the stage for Ovechkin.

“I hit the post, and it’s a good thing I didn’t raise my arms up,” Ovechkin said. “I finished up the play and got lucky.”

In Winnipeg, the Jets trailed 3-0 after the first period but scored four straight goals in the second — including three in less than three minutes — en route to a 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators.

Blake Wheeler scored the go-ahead goal for the Jets, who took a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference second-round series.