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Penguins top Capitals in overtime in Game 4

PITTSBURGH -- Patric Hornqvist scored 2:34 into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins seized a 3-1 series lead over the NHL regular season champion Washington Capitals, winning 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night.

PITTSBURGH - Patric Hornqvist scored 2:34 into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins seized a 3-1 series lead over the NHL regular season champion Washington Capitals, winning 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night.

The Penguins, winners of 21 of 25 dating the regular season, had lost eight consecutive overtime playoff games until Capitals defenseman Mike Weber - a Pittsburgh native - accidentally threw the puck on Hornqvist’s stick for a wrist shot that beat goalie Braden Holtby through his legs.

Weber, back in the lineup for the first time since the Flyers opening-round series, was trying to get the puck out when it flew directly to Hornqvist in the right circle for his fifth goal of the playoffs and first playoff overtime winner.

Penguins rookie Matt Murray made 34 saves, overcoming a Capitals goal less than three minutes into the game to win for the 13th time in his last 14 starts and the loss of star defenseman Kris Letang to a one-game suspension. Holtby made 30 saves.

The Penguins, who lost 3-1 series leads to Tampa Bay in 2011 and the New York Rangers in 2014, now take that edge into Game 5 in Washington on Saturday. The Penguins won seven of eight previous playoff series from the Capitals.

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All four games in the series have been decided by one goal.

The Capitals got exactly the start they wanted after losing 3-2 in Game 3 despite outshooting the Penguins by 2-to-1, as Jay Beagle put a bad-angle backhander from along the goal line past Murray only 2:58 into the game.

But instead of building on the momentum created by Beagle’s third goal of the postseason, the Capitals allowed the Penguins to wrestle it away.

Bryan Rust couldn’t put the puck into an undefended net as it lay in the crease, but defenseman Trevor Daley did convert by beating Holtby between the pads on a 40-foot wrist shot. Daley got loose on a Penguins breakout created when they broke Washington’s three-man forecheck.

The Penguins’ timeless Matt Cullen - he’s six months away from 40 - made it 2-1 early in the second. Center Oskar Sundqvist beat Alex Ovechkin to the puck off a Penguins faceoff win, and rookie Tom Kuhnhackl deflected Brian Dumoulin’s pass off the boards to Cullen.

But the absence of Penguins breakout specialist Letang - he created two goals with stretch passes in Game 3 - might have hurt on John Carlson’s fourth goal of the playoffs.

Pittsburgh couldn’t clear the puck despite repeated chances, allowing Justin Williams to throw a pass to Carlson for a short wrist shot from the right circle that beat Murray under the crossbar to the glove side at 16:19.

Penguins star Sidney Crosby went to the dressing room briefly in the third period after taking an Ovechkin stick to his left wrist - and Crosby angrily broke his own stick in frustration as he walked down a rampway.

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Crosby returned a few minutes later and drew a Karl Alzner high-sticking penalty at 16:22, but the Penguins didn’t manage a shot during the Capitals’ 23rd consecutive penalty kill. Pittsburgh is 0 for 14 with the man advantage in the series.

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