WASHINGTON: Braden Holtby stopped 32 shots and the Washington Capitals used a balanced offensive attack to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 to even their Eastern Conference playoff series at one game apiece on Sunday.
Four different Capitals – Alex Ovechkin, Jakub Vrána, Brett Connolly, and Nicklas Bäckström – scored goals as the second-round NHL series now shifts to Pittsburgh.
Kris Letang scored the lone goal for the Penguins in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,500 at Washington’s Capital One Arena.
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins host game three on Tuesday.
In the late game, Kevin Fiala scored in double overtime to lift the Nashville Predators to a 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets and a 1-1 tie in their second round series.
Ovechkin scored just 86 seconds into the game as he blasted a shot from the high slot area past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. The goal was the seventh of the postseason for Russia’s Ovechkin.
Vrana, with his first career playoff goal, made it 2-0 on the power play about 14 minutes later after taking a pass from Lars Eller.
Pittsburgh appeared to cut the Capitals lead to 3-2 halfway through the final period when Swedish forward Patric Hörnqvist jammed a puck under the leg pad of Holtby.
The play went to video review and despite the replays appearing to show white ice between the puck and the red goal line, the officials determined there was no goal.
The Penguins were furious, saying they did their own homework.
“It’s 100% a goal,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “When you blow it up, you can see the white. It’s behind the post.”
With their kettle already on boil from that ruling, the Penguins’ fury with the officials escalated on another controversial play.
Canadian enforcer Tom Wilson wasn’t penalised for a blindside check to Brian Dumoulin’s head with his left shoulder in the second period. Dumoulin, of the US, left the game to be checked for a head injury and did not return.
“He made contact with his head,” said Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who suffered a similar hit that led to a concussion from former Capitals player David Steckel seven years ago.
“Given his history and things like that, I’m sure the league will take a good look at it.”
Bäckström scored an empty-net goal with seven seconds left in the third to finish the scoring.