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Pens Top Caps in OT To Clinch Playoff Spot




Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Jake Guentzel scored his 22nd goal 2:11 into overtime to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night in a result that clinched both teams’ place in the playoffs.

Guentzel’s winner on a one-time redirection of John Marino’s pass came after Washington’s Tom Wilson forced overtime with 14.3 seconds to play.

The result, combined with the New York Islanders’ regulation win over the New York Rangers, ensures both teams will be among the Eastern Division’s four playoff teams.

“We’re going to enjoy this one tonight,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “By no means are any of us satisfied — we understand there’s a lot of work to do here.

“But we’re going to take a deep breath tonight and enjoy it.”

Kasperi Kapanen scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season, Frederick Gaudreau added a goal in his return from injury and Zach Aston-Reese also scored for the Penguins, who have now won five of their seven meetings with the Capitals.

Colton Sceviour and Jared McCann each had two assists for Pittsburgh.

T.J. Oshie scored his 18th goal, Daniel Sprung added his fourth in three games. Dmitry Orlov also scored and had an assist for Washington before Wilson’s late leveler.

Nicklas Backstrom had three assists and Justin Schultz had two for the Capitals, who would not have clinched their spot with a loss in regulation.

“I think we shot ourselves in the foot a couple times, just with the puck, and it ended up in the back of the net,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought we were able to get some looks, and I thought we were pretty good defensively. But the mistakes that we made, they cost us.”

Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry made 33 saves and Washington’s Vitek Vanacek made 30 stops.

Kapanen gave his team the lead midway through the third. McCann spotted him breaking down the right with a cross-ice pass, and with his defender beat, Kapanen lifted a shot over Vanacek’s blocker side into the top right corner to make it 4-3.

Wilson leveled it on a 6-on-5. Evgeny Kuznetsov tracked down his own miss, then spun and snuck a tight feed to him in front of the crease, and Wilson lifted a shot over Jarry’s shoulder.

“It’s never good when you give up a goal like that within the last, how many seconds there,” Guentzel said. “But you’ve just got to look at it (as), you’ve got a point, and you’ve got to try to get the next one. You’ve got to move by it pretty quick.”


Penguins: RW Evan Rodrigues had to be helped off the ice midway through the first period after he was caught in the lower left leg by teammate Mike Matheson’s shot attempt. … Evgeny Malkin (lower body) participated in Pittsburgh’s morning skate. … Gaudreau (lower body) returned after missing seven games.

Capitals: LW Alex Ovechkin (lower body) missed his third straight game, and D John Carlson (lower body) was held out as a game-time decision. … Schultz (lower body) missed Washington’s previous three games before his return Thursday.


Of the Penguins’ five wins in the season series, this was the fourth via overtime or shootout. Afterward, both sides said Thursday’s contest had a postseason feel.

“I think these last couple games have been playoff-style hockey,” Guentzel said. “There might not be as much ice out there and it’s just two teams who are defending hard.”

Said Laviolette: “I know that when we play them, we’re planning to play a certain way. It has to be in order for us to find success. I’d imagine they’d probably say the same things. It’s just one of those games where there’s not a lot of room. You have to compete for everything.”


Oshie’s goal on a first-period power play snapped a stretch of nine successful Pittsburgh penalty kills against Washington, the NHL’s second-best club on the man advantage.

Meanwhile, Kapanen’s tying goal later in the period was the first allowed at even strength by a Capitals goaltender since the second period of a 6-3 loss to Boston on April 18, a stretch of 222 minutes and 42 seconds.


The Penguins and Capitals meet again in Washington Saturday, completing their season series.


NEW YORK (AP) — Semyon Varlamov stopped 25 shots for his league-leading sixth shutout of the season and 250th career win as the New York Islanders beat the rival Rangers.

Leo Komarov, Oliver Wahlstrom, Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal scored, and Brock Nelson and Scott Mayfield each had two assists for the Islanders. Coming off three straight losses to first-place Washington, they won for the third time in eight games (3-4-1).

Varlamov had seven saves in the first period, 10 in the second and eight in the third for his 33rd career shutout and fourth win in five starts against the Rangers this season. He became the first goalie to shut out the Rangers three times at Madison Square Garden in one season.

Igor Shesterkin finished with 23 saves, falling to 0-4-1 in five starts against the Islanders.


BOSTON (AP) — David Krejci and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist, and Boston beat Buffalo.

David Pastrnak scored his 199th career goal for Boston just 1:16 into the game, and Charlie Coyle broke a 2-all tie on a breakaway midway through the third. Taylor Hall also scored for the Bruins, and Tuukka Rask finished with 29 saves.

Casey Mittelstadt and Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 35 shots.


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Blake Coleman converted a short-handed penalty shot and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 20 shots for his 26th career shutout to lead Tampa Bay past Dallas.

Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point also scored for Tampa Bay, which has won four consecutive games.

Vasilevskiy’s shutout, his third this season against Dallas, is his fifth on the season, tying for the league lead. Vasilevskiy also reached 30 victories for a franchise-record fourth consecutive season.

Jake Oettinger stopped 25 shots for Dallas, which has lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time since April 4-6.


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Teuvo Teravainen had a goal and assist for his first points in more than two months, and Carolina beat Detroit to stretch its points streak to nine games.

Teravainen was in his second game back after sitting out 32 of 33 games because of a concussion.

Brady Skjei and Warren Foegele also scored, and Sebastian Aho registered two assists for the Hurricanes.

Carolina goalie James Reimer played just his fourth game in April, making 16 saves for his team-high 15th victory.

Jakub Vrana scored for Detroit. Jonathan Bernier stopped 29 shots for the Red Wings.


NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Yegor Sharangovich scored twice, Mackenzie Blackwood made 21 saves and New Jersey beat Philadelphia.

Jesper Boqvist, Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt also scored as the Devils won their second straight game after an 0-9-1 stretch. Defensemen Damon Severson and Will Butcher each recorded two assists.

Scott Laughton, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny scored for Philadelphia, and Alex Lyon made 14 saves as the Flyers fell for the third time in four games. Jakub Voracek added two assists.


TORONTO (AP) — Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 36th goal of the season as Toronto defeated Vancouver.

Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist, and William Nylander and Pierre Engvall added goals for Toronto. David Rittich, who got the start in place of Jack Campbell, made 15 saves.

Jason Spezza added an assist and passed Maurice (Rocket) Richard for the 99th spot on the league’s all-time scoring list with 967 points.

J.T. Miller scored for Vancouver, and Braden Holtby made 20 saves.


CHICAGO (AP) — Sam Bennett scored at 4:08 of overtime to give Florida a win over Chicago.

Alex DeBrincat scored on a one-timer with 18 seconds left in regulation for his 24th goal, tying the game at 3-all and forcing overtime.

Alex Wennberg and Brandon Mountour each had a goal and assist for the Panthers. Anthony Duclair also scored. Spencer Knight made 24 saves.

Adam Gaudette and Vinnie Hinostroza also scored for Chicago. Lankinen stopped 35 shots.


ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Ryan O’Reilly scored his second goal of the game at 3:43 of overtime and St. Louis beat Minnesota.

Sammy Blais, Tyler Bozak and Marco Scandella also scored for St. Louis. Ville Husso made 26 saves as the Blues won their fourth straight and seventh in the last 10.

Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala, Victor Rask and Kirill Kaprizov scored for the Wild, who had a seven-game winning streak snapped by St. Louis on Wednesday in the first of three straight games between the teams. Cam Talbot had 16 saves for Minnesota.


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