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Penguins edge Capitals in overtime to open 3-1 series lead

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Penguins Push Capitals to the Brink

(The Sports Xchange) - 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 Game Four of the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Wednesday.

"It's huge, obviously -- 3-1 is a lot more desirable than 2-2," said Penguins rookie goalie Matt Murray, who made 34 saves. "But we know we've got a lot of work left to do. We know nothing's done."

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

"It was obviously great to see the puck go in, we win the game and we're up 3-1," Hornqvist said. "I tried to shoot it as hard as I could."

Pittsburgh-native Weber, back in the lineup for the first time since the opening-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, 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.

"It's what probably any defenseman would have done in that situation -- the puck's rolling around and you're trying to poke it out of the danger zone," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said.

"It just so happens the guy (Hornqvist) is flying in there."

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Penguins edge Capitals in overtime to open 3-1 series lead
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22: Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates after scoring a goal against Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 16: Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning gives up a goal to Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Consol Energy Center on May 16, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 13: Ondrej Palat #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning scores a goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15: David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues (R) celebrates with Jaden Schwartz #17 after scoring a first period goal against Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks (not pictured) in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Troy Brouwer #36 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Seven of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scottrade Center on April 25, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. The blues beat the Blackhawks 3-2 to win the series. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - APRIL 27: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes a save as Nikolay Kulemin #86 of the New York Islanders crashes into Jason Garrison #5 during the first period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 27, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 02: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals reacts after being scored on by Tom Kuhnhackl #34 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers is pushed aside as players from the Panthers and the New York Islanders converge in the crease during the second period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Barclays Center on April 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 20: Jason Spezza #90 of the Dallas Stars scores a goal against Jason Pominville #29 and goalie Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 20, 2016 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 27: Clayton Stoner #3 of the Anaheim Ducks and Viktor Arvidsson #38 of the Nashville Predators leap to avoid a collision during the second period of Game Seven of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Honda Center on April 27, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 19: Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings battles for the puck with Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period of Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena on April 19, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Tampa Bay won the game 3-2. Tampa Bay leads the series 3-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 23: Sami Vatanen #45 of the Anaheim Ducks reacts after scoring on a breakaway against goaltender Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators in the third period of Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on April 23, 2016 in Anaheim, California. Vatanen's goal was the eventual game-winning goal. The Ducks defeated the Predators 5-2. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 20: Andrew MacDonald #47 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates after scoring against the Washington Capitals during the second period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 20, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Murray withstood a Capitals goal by center Jay Beagle less than three minutes into the game to win for the 13th time in his last 14 starts -- and the Penguins withstood the loss of star defenseman Kris Letang to a one-game suspension.

"We didn't take advantage of it (Letang's absence)," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Now we've dug ourselves a hole. We'll see if we can dig ourselves out."

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, who did not score despite getting seven shots on net, said the Capitals know a comeback from a 3-1 deficit can be achieved -- the New York Rangers accomplished it against them last season.

"We've got to play our game. We got to go period by period and try to turn it around, win the next game," Ovechkin said.

The Penguins, who lost 3-1 series leads to Tampa Bay in 2011 and the Rangers in 2014, have won seven of eight previous playoff series from the Capitals.

But this was supposed to be the best Capitals team ever -- they put up 120 points during an NHL season in which no other team managed even 110. But now, the Capitals must win three straight against a surging opponent to keep their season going.

"It's not the best place to be," Washington defenseman John Carlson said. "But we're proud of our game and, at some point, we've got to dig deeper and work harder and find a way, no matter what."

All four games in the series have been decided by one goal and Game Five could be another close one in Washington on Saturday.

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