Hornqvist scores overtime-winner as Penguins push Capitals to the brink of elimination

Patric Hornqvist (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Thanks to Patric Hornqvist, the Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from downing the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and advancing to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

The teams traded goals through two frames with Jay Beagle and John Carlson finding the net for Washington and Trevor Daley and Matt Cullen responding for Pittsburgh, and played a back-and-forth scoreless third period that set up overtime for the second time in the series. And in overtime, it was Hornqvist who was gifted an incredible opportunity when Capitals defenseman Mike Weber, who was in the lineup in place of a healthy-scratched Nate Schmidt, made a nearly unthinkable error and poked a puck right into the Penguins winger’s wheelhouse.

Hornqvist made no mistake, firing the puck past Capitals netminder Braden Holtby for the win. Just like that, the Penguins skated away with a 3-2 victory in Game 4 and a 3-1 lead in the second-round series. Read more

Johansson has upper-body injury after Letang hit, will be re-evaluated ahead of Game 4

Jared Clinton
Marcus Johansson (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Capitals winger Marcus Johansson was able to finish Monday’s Game 3 against the Penguins following the hit by Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, but Johansson’s status for Game 4 could be in question.

As the Capitals took the ice for practice Tuesday, the team announced that Johansson had suffered an upper-body injury and would not skate with the team. Being that it’s the post-season, no specifics regarding Johansson’s injury have been released, but the 25-year-old told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti that he cleared concussion protocol following the jolt and was dealing with a sore neck after the Capitals’ loss.

According to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, Capitals coach Barry Trotz wouldn’t confirm whether or not Johansson would be back in the lineup for Game 4, saying only that the winger would be re-evaluated Wednesday. Read more

Update: Kris Letang suspended one game for late hit on Marcus Johansson

letang hit

Is Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang a lightning rod for dangerous plays or what?

Whether he’s giving or receiving, he can’t seem to dodge controversy. Letang avoided a suspension for this slash in the first round of the playoffs on the New York Rangers’ Viktor Stalberg, as the NHL Department of Player Safety felt the stanchion launched Letang’s stick into Stalberg’s face.

Letang might have a tougher time escaping the law after what happened in Game 3 of his Penguins’ Metropolitan Division final matchup against the Washington Capitals Monday. A look at his powerful hit on Caps left winger Marcus Johansson:

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Sensational Matt Murray wins Game 3 for Penguins – and the better team loses

Matt Murray and Patric Hornqvist (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

So much for messing with Matt Murray’s head.

That was the concern, at least in this corner, upon learning the Pittsburgh Penguins would dress their usual starting goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, for Game 3 of the Metro Division semifinal. Fleury hadn’t played since March 31, when he sustained his second concussion of the 2015-16 season. Fleury earned a clean bill of health after missing the Pens’ first seven playoff games, and coach Mike Sullivan dressed Fleury as a backup to Murray Monday night.

There were two risk factors there. For one, was it worth bringing Fleury back if he wasn’t going to start anyway? Why not rest him further in that case? And secondly, what would Fleury’s presence do to Murray’s psyche? It would only be human to look over his shoulder a little bit with the franchise’s all-time wins leader sitting a few dozen feet away in full gear.

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Capitals’ Orpik banned three games for hit on Penguins’ Maatta

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: Brooks Orpik #44 of the Washington Capitals and Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins battle for the puck during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 30, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Penguins won 2-1. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik was allowed to stay in Saturday’s Game 2 after knocking Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Olli Maatta out of the contest with a questionable hit. He did receive a minor penalty for interference on the play.

But Orpik didn’t escape more substantial punishment. The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Oprik for three games on Sunday, banning him from playing until a potential Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

“This hit is forceful, unacceptably high and excessively late,” Player Safety director Patrick Burke said in a video explaining the rationale behind the suspension.

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Suspend him or not: Capitals’ Orpik could be in trouble after hit on Penguins’ Maatta

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins falls back to the ice after getting injured in the first period against the Washington Capitals during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 30, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik was only playing his second game since returning from what looked to be a serious injury resulting from a questionable check. And in that second game back, Orpik became the hitter under that same scenario rather than the recipient.

Orpik caught Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Olli Maatta with a high and late hit in the first period of Game 2 on Saturday – a 2-1 Pittsburgh victory. Orpik made contact with Maatta almost two seconds after he released the puck. Orpik’s forearm or elbow appeared to make contact with Maatta’s head.

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Letang amazing as Penguins even series with Capitals

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 23:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

Defenseman Kris Letang showed how value he is to the Pittsburgh Penguins throughout Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Washington Capitals.

With Olli Maatta knocked out of the game 4:13 in thanks to a questionable hit by former Penguin Brooks Orpik, Letang was forced to be a workhorse in the 2-1 win – a win that evened the series. Letang skated for well more than half the game – 35:22 to be exact – as Pittsburgh’s blueline depth was shredded. He played almost 10 minutes more than his regular season average of 26:56, which was fourth highest in the NHL.

With the 29-year-old rearguard patrolling the ice, the Penguins held the Capitals high-powered offense to 24 shots on goal on Saturday, including just 10 through the first two periods. That the Capitals came on during the third can be partially explained by Letang’s short absence. Letang was called for tripping 2:56 into the frame when he knocked Caps right winger Justin Williams off the puck, a call he vehemently disagreed with. Marcus Johansson scored on the power play to tie the game barely a minute later. It was one of only two power plays the Capitals were afforded in the contest.

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Updated: Tom Wilson gets maximum fine for knee-on-knee hit on Conor Sheary

Jared Clinton
Tom Wilson hits Conor Sheary (via NHL/Streamable)

Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson has a knack for getting under the skin of opponents, and he definitely falls into the category of players that are beloved by their own team but hated by opponents. But in being a pest, Wilson plays on the edge and he may have crossed the line in Game 1 of the second round.

In the third period of Thursday’s game, Wilson was heading for a line change while approaching Pittsburgh Penguins winger Conor Sheary. As Sheary moved the deflected the puck into the Washington zone, Wilson continued to speed toward Sheary. The Penguins rookie braced for contact, but Wilson moved out of the way and instead went knee-on-knee with Sheary before being pulled off the ice by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin: Read more