The Pittsburgh Penguins grabbed a 2-1 series over the Washington Capitals with a nail-biting 3-2 win in Game 3 Monday night.
Washington fired 49 shots on Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray, but the 21-year-old netminder stood tall and stopped 47 of them while Patric Hornqvist and Tom Kuhnhackl scored a minute apart in the first period to help give the Penguins a jumpstart on the Capitals.
The Capitals peppered Murray with 21 shots over the final 20 minutes while trying to claw back from a 3-0 deficit. Only Alex Ovechkin and Justin Williams managed to beat him during a furious late rally.
Murray improved his even strength save percentage to .956 in six playoff games. That should keep the Marc-Andre Fleury — who served as Pittsburgh’s Game 3 backup — quiet for now.
Despite outshooting them in the first period, the Capitals fell into a quick hole in the span of 60 seconds. Hornqvist opened the scoring by registering his fourth of the playoffs after tipping home Trevor Daley’s shot from the point 6:37 into the game.
One minute later, Kuhnhackl and Matt Cullen entered the Washington zone on a 2-on-1. Cullen’s pass deflected off of Matt Niskanen’s stick and hit Kuhnhackl in the numbers and fell into the Capitals net.
All was quiet until late in the second period when the Penguins cushioned their lead with a third goal. After a defensive zone turnover by Nate Schmidt, Phil Kessel found Nick Bonino right in front of Washington net. Bonino went around Holtby and slid a pass to a crease-crashing Carl Hagelin.
Kris Letang would have made it 4-0 with 13 seconds left in the second period had it not been for a pesky goal post.
The third period saw the Capitals push to get back into the game. Ovechkin wristed home his first of the series at 8:02 on Washington’s 36th shot of the game to end Murray’s shutout bid. Williams’ goal with 56 second left made an already tense final few minutes even more intense.
The game wasn’t without controversy, which has become a theme of the series. Late in the opening period, Letang delivered a late, high hit on Marcus Johansson which resulted in an interference minor. Johansson returned for the start of the second period. Considering what’s gone on through three games so far, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Penguins defenseman gets some form of punishment.
Game 4 is Wednesday night back at CONSOL Energy Center.
- - - - - - -
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY: