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Pittsburgh Penguins beat Washington Capitals in OT, both teams clinch playoff spots

Apr 29, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) makes a save on Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20) as Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson (5) defends in the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Guentzel scored 2:11 into overtime and gave the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals Thursday night as both East Division rivals earned playoff berths.

The two teams now are tied for first place with 69 points. Both teams claimed their postseason spots combined with the fifth-place New York Rangers’ 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders Thursday. For the Penguins, it marks their 15th consecutive playoff berth — the longest active streak in North American sports leagues.

Washington (32-13-5) sent the game into overtime on a Tom Wilson goal with 14.3 seconds left before Guentzel redirected a John Marino pass by goalie Vitek Vanecek to give Pittsburgh (33-15-3) the victory.

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Injuries affected both teams in this one. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin missed his third straight game due to a lower-body injury while teammate John Carlson — the team’s top defenseman — also was out with a lower-body problem suffered late in the team’s win over the Islanders Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh once again went without Evgeni Malkin. He’s been out for 22 straight games (lower body) while Brandon Tanev sat out a 13th consecutive contest due to an upper-body injury.

T.J. Oshie gave the Capitals the early lead when he redirected a Justin Schultz shot past goalie Tristan Jarry at 7:27 of the opening period. Oshie quickly got his stick in the air after Schultz fired, and that gave Washington a power-play goal.

But a rare defensive mistake from Nicklas Backstrom helped the Penguins tie the game. Kasperi Kapanen intercepted a Backstrom pass between the circles and beat Vanecek on a quick shot with 4:33 remaining in the period.

Both teams scored twice in the second period. Frederick Gaudreau gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead 8:32 into the period before Dmitry Orlov tied it with a slap shot 30 seconds later.

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Washington made it 3-2 when Daniel Sprong redirected a Schultz shot from the doorstep with 4:53 left in the period. But Pittsburgh tied it when the Caps again turned it over in their own zone, and Colton Sceviour fed Zach Aston-Reese, who slid a shot past Vanecek with 1:49 remaining.

It stayed that way until Kapanen ripped a shot that beat Vanecek to the short side for a 4-3 lead with 9:05 remaining. Then, Wilson scored late to set up the overtime.

–Field Level Media