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History repeats itself: Pittsburgh Penguins eliminate Washington Capitals in Game 7

By
Harvey Valentine, The Sports Xchange
Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) is congratulated by left wing Conor Sheary (43) after his goal in the third period against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on May 10, 2017, in game seven of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. File photo by Mark Goldman/UPI
Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) is congratulated by left wing Conor Sheary (43) after his goal in the third period against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on May 10, 2017, in game seven of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. File photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON -- Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist scored goals, Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves, and the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 2-0 on Wednesday in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Penguins, who continued their postseason mastery of the Capitals, will face the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference finals.

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Rust made it 1-0 midway through the second period, and Hornqvist doubled the lead early in the third.

Pittsburgh eliminated the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals in the conference semifinals for the second season in a row, and the Penguins have won nine of 10 postseason series between the teams. During that time, Pittsburgh is 4-0 in Game 7s.

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The Penguins are now 3-0 vs. the Capitals in series played during the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin era. The previous two times the Penguins eliminated the Capitals, they went on to win the Stanley Cup.

After outscoring the Penguins 9-4 in Games 5 and 6 to erase the Penguins 3-1 series lead, Washington was unable to beat Fleury, who picked up his ninth career postseason shutout.

Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots for Washington, which enters an uncertain offseason with a number of unrestricted and restricted free agents.

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Rust has eight goals and one assist in 12 career playoff elimination games.

Pittsburgh improved to 6-0 in road Game 7s while Washington fell to 3-8 when hosting.

Both teams had solid chances in a scoreless first period. Evgeni Malkin was open in the slot, but Holtby got a piece of his shot. Then on a Washington power play, Kevin Shattenkirk's shot was deflected off the post by Evgeny Kuznetsov. Later in the period, Daniel Winnik broke in alone on Fleury, but fired wide.

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Then at 6:40 of the second period, Fleury stoned Lars Eller on a rebound in front.

The Penguins scored the game's first goal at 8:49 of the period. Crosby fed Jake Guentzel to the right of Holtby and Guentzel patiently held the puck until Rust broke into the slot, took a feed from Guentzel and beat Holtby.

With 3:53 left in the period, Fleury made arguably his best and most important save of the game to preserve the lead. He was able to deflect an Ovechkin blast from the slot with the shaft of his stick and blocker.

Hornqvist made it 2-0 at 4:14 of the third period. After a Capitals' clearing attempt failed, defenseman Justin Schultz passed to Hornqvist and he flipped a backhander over Holtby's glove side shoulder from the slot.

NOTES: With his assist, C Jake Guentzel set a Penguins record for playoff points by a rookie with 14 (nine goals, five assists). ... Penguins G Matt Murray dressed for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury in warmups before Game 1 versus the Columbus Blue Jackets. ... Pittsburgh D Trevor Daley (lower body injury) missed his second straight tame. F Carl Hagelin (lower-body injury) and Tom Kuhnhackl were scratched, replaced in the lineup by F Scott Wilson and F Carter Rowney, respectively. ... Capitals F Justin Williams (7-1) took his first loss in a Game 7. ... Washington fell to 4-11 overall in Game 7s. ... In Game 7s, the team that scores first is 125-42 all-time.

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