Bonino scores late as Pens top Caps in Game 1

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[April 28, 2017]  WASHINGTON -- Bearing down on goal in the third period of a 2-2 game, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Nick Bonino kept things simple, and it worked.

Bonino scored the go-ahead goal with 7:24 remaining, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots, and the Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Thursday night to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

"I haven't had a breakaway in I don't know how long, so I just tried to get it on net," Bonino said of the game-winner.

Defenseman Ian Cole started the winning play when he fired a long pass to Scott Wilson up the left side. Wilson crossed the blue line and then fed a streaking Bonino, who was ahead of the defense and beat goalie Braden Holtby with a high wrist shot.

"Bones is a guy that's a high-stakes player," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He brings his best game when the game's most important."

Bonino's second goal of the playoffs came just 4:31 after the Capitals tied the score.

Fleury was then stellar to the finish, especially during an extended scramble in front of him with about three minutes left.

"When are they gonna blow the whistle?" Sullivan said when asked about his thoughts during the scramble. "Marc obviously made a couple of big stops for us, and I think that's what he's done throughout the course of the playoffs. He gives us that timely save when we need it."

Sidney Crosby scored two goals 52 seconds apart to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Patric Hornqvist assisted on both. Crosby now has four goals and nine points in six playoff games.

Alex Ovechkin scored his fourth goal of the playoffs to cut the deficit to 2-1 late in the second period, and Washington tied it at 8:05 of the third. After a scramble in front, Matt Niskanen gained control of the puck on the right-wing boards and made a perfect pass across the slot to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who one-timed the puck into a wide-open net.

Holtby made 18 saves.

Game 2 is Saturday night in Washington.

"We put 80-plus pucks at their net tonight, they put about 40 toward ours," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We did a lot of good things, but we obviously didn't do enough. ... I thought all three goals were very preventable on our side today."

The best save of a scoreless first period belonged to Pittsburgh center Jake Guentzel. After a Fleury save, the rebound went to T.J. Oshie, who appeared to have a big opening. Guentzel, who was in the crease, made a kick save while falling into the net, and Fleury was able to cover the puck just in front of the goal line.

Once the second period started, it took only 64 seconds for Crosby to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.

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Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) celebrates with Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino (13) after their game against the Washington Capitals in game one of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center. The Penguins won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Just after the opening faceoff, Niskanen got caught up ice and the Penguins came in two-on-one. Guentzel passed across ice from the left circle and Crosby's one-timer from the right circle beat the sliding Holtby.

Less than a minute after the faceoff, Holtby made a save on Olli Maatta's shot from the point. The rebound went to Hornqvist in front and he slid a short pass to a driving Crosby, who fired past Holtby at 1:04 of the period.

"We came off and then got out there again. We were able to get a quick chance and put it in," Crosby said. "That's how it goes. Sometimes you don't get some for a while and then they come in bunches and it's nice to see a couple go in."

Things could have gotten worse for Washington minutes later, but Holtby stopped Phil Kessel on a breakaway.

Ovechkin pulled the Capitals within 2-1 when he a took pass from Lars Eller just inside the blue line, skated to the top of the circle and fired a short-side wrister over Fleury's shoulder with 1:43 left in the period.

"We come out a little bit slow," Ovechkin said. "The first and second period, we make one mistake and they score right away. Then next shift they score again. After that, we played the way wanted to play. We put (the) puck deep, we forecheck, we hit."

NOTES: The Capitals outhit the Penguins 41-17. ... Penguins C Sidney Crosby now has 10 goals and seven assists in 14 playoff games vs. Washington. ... Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin now has 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 14 playoff games against Pittsburgh. ... Each of Washington's seven playoff games has been decided by one goal. ... Pittsburgh LW Carl Hagelin (lower-body injury) took limited contact in the morning skate and remains day-to-day. F Chris Kunitz (lower body) returned after missing 10 games including the regular season and playoffs. F Carter Rowney was scratched. ... Penguins D Chad Ruhwedel (upper body) remains out. ... Washington D Karl Alzner (upper body) missed his fifth consecutive game and is day-to day.

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