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Capitals even series with Penguins in dominant effort

April 29, 2018 GMT

The Washington Capitals scored their first goal quickly, just like in Game 1. This time, though, the electricity among fans in red at Capital One Arena never died away.

For one day, at least, the Capitals solved their issues in defending a two-goal lead, allowing them to take Game 2 of their second-round Stanley Cup Playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 Sunday afternoon.

Alex Ovechkin was one of four Capitals to score, Lars Eller had three assists and Braden Holtby made 32 saves.

The Capitals evened the series with their playoff rivals, which will shift to Pittsburgh for Game 3 Tuesday.

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Ovechkin scored on his line’s first shift, less than a minute and half into the action. When Patric Hornqvist tussled with Evgeny Kuznetsov for the puck in the neutral zone, Hornqvist knocked it into the Capitals’ offensive zone and directly to Ovechkin, who scored from above the left circle.

Braden Holtby had a stellar start against the five shots he faced in the first 10 minutes, including a moment he stonewalled Sidney Crosby that electrified the arena.

Crosby was later called for hooking, and with five seconds left on the power play, Washington profited. Eller sent a pass from the right corner to Jakub Vrana, and the rookie maneuvered through three skaters to shove a shot past Matt Murray’s arm.

The Capitals outshot Pittsburgh 20-10 in the first and set a franchise record for most shots in one playoff period. But the Penguins would catch up and, in fact, outshoot Washington for the game, 33-32.

Eller made another important play two minutes into the second, when he grabbed a neutral-zone giveaway and changed direction in time to find Brett Connolly skating in the clear. Murray got a piece of Connolly’s shot, but it bounced through.

Dmitry Orlov and Hornqvist received matching roughing calls for trading blows, and Pittsburgh finally scored on the resulting 4-on-4 13 minutes into the second. Kris Letang’s blue-line wrister found its way through four skaters near the net and past Holtby.

It proved to be the only smudge on Holtby’s record for the game. Halfway through the third, Crosby tried for a wraparound, and when his shot hit the pipe, Hornqvist pushed the rebound under Holtby’s skate. But the officials’ call was “no goal” and an extensive review confirmed the puck didn’t clear the goal line.

With that behind them, the Capitals continued to dominate the rest of the game. They had two more power plays, but didn’t score, and they killed their third penalty of the game, even when Pittsburgh pulled Murray to create a 6-on-4 chance. This extended their streak to 22 kills without allowing a goal. Nicklas Backstrom added an empty-net goal in the final seconds.

Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin left the game in the first period and did not return, after he got caught between hits from Ovechkin and Tom Wilson.

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