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Game 4 Recap: Guentzel Guts Caps, Penguins Win 3-1

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The Pittsburgh Penguins rode strong play from Jake Guentzel to hold court at PPG Paints Arena and even the series with the Capitals 2-2.

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Four Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

With a....*checks notes*.....2-1 series lead, could the Capitals put the pedal to the metal in the steel city?

Here’s Thursday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Braden Holtby was once again excellent, saving 21-of-23 for a .913 SV%. Oh, OH! And T.J. Oshie kicked Kris Letang’s ass. More on that below.

Minus: Alex Ovechkin recorded zero shots on goal. You read that right. The Captain will need to do more.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

1. With the Capitals having snatched Game 3 from the Penguins in Pittsburgh to stake the Capitals to a 2-1 lead series lead, could Washington manage to steal Game 4 as well and go up 3-1 in the Steel, mustard City?

2. Of course, the news on everyone’s lips was winger Tom Wilson’s three-game suspension for his hit on Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese. With Washington’s top line now one-third weaker and Devante Smith-Pelly getting the call-up, would the Capitals be able to replace their high-flying, hard-hitting, penalty-killing stud?

3. One person glad for the line-up shakeup was rookie Shane Gersich, who got his first deep gulp from the brim of the Stanley Cup and her playoffs. Could Sugar Shane step up when the Capitals needed him?

4. He certainly seemed ready! Early in the first, Big Daddy Shane got loose on a 2-on-1. He failed to lift the shot up over Matt Murray’s pads, but he put the Penguins - and Caps fans - on notice.

5. The first period ended with Pittsburgh leading Washington by just three shots, and the entire universe hung in the balance.

6. The second period kicked off with a dirty yellow bang. Halfway through the period, Jake Guentzel found a far-flung puck at the corner of the crease and slung it past Braden Holtby’s pad to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead, just the second time in ten games that the Capitals have given up the first goose.

7. With six minutes left in the period, some cosmic justice happened. Jake Guentzel caught a well-deserved tripping minor drawn by Lars Eller, and with Blonde Jake himself in the penalty box, T.J. Oshie received a tender, gentle, tiny loving push-pass from Nicklas Backstrom for a low-slot one-timer and the tying goal, 1-1.

8. BUT, because life is a tragic ouroboros, T.J. Oshie took a slashing penalty that put him in the box. On the power play, Evgeni Malkin stuffed the puck past an all-turnt-out Braden Holtby and juuuuust barely over the line. Upon video review, the goal was awarded to Pittsburgh, and the Penguins took a 2-1 lead. It would end up being the game-winner.

9. With time dwindling, Jake Guentzel twisted the knife, potting the empty-netter and sending the wet birds home 3-1 winners.

10. The series is now tied 2-2, and is best-of-three. It’s anyone’s ballgame, sports fans.

The Penguins defended their home ice. Tom Wilson’s presence was sorely missed on the top line, with DSP proving himself largely ineffective. Let’s see what Barry Trotz cooks up.

Game 5 is back in DC on Saturday at Capital One Arena.

Game highlights: