Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 36 shots and rookie Jake Guentzel took advantage of a fortunate bounce for his playoff-leading eighth goal and the defending Stanley Cup champions held off the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Justin Schultz scored in a second straight game and Patric Hornqvist picked up his third goal of the postseason as Pittsburgh took a 3-1 lead in the series.
The Penguins played without Crosby, who is out indefinitely with a concussion suffered in Game 3.
Pittsburgh has a chance to eliminate the Capitals in Game 5 on Saturday in Washington.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nate Schmidt scored for the Capitals. Braden Holtby finished with 15 saves, but Washington failed to even the series despite controlling play for long stretches.
Matt Niskanen's shot to Crosby's jaw early in Game 3 left Crosby concussed and his immediate future uncertain. It also forced his team to figure out a way to survive without one of the game's most brilliant catalysts while simultaneously trying to rein in their anger at what they considered a dirty hit.
Fleury stressed the Penguins didn't need to focus on retribution, though Washington prepared for it.
Capitals center Jay Beagle thought things could get "nasty" as the series moved forward.
Pittsburgh's Phil Kessel countered that Beagle's assertion that Niskanen's shot was "clean" made Beagle "an idiot." Beagle suggested the two work out their differences over video games.
It didn't happen. At least not on Wednesday.
Save for a scrap in the second period that amounted to little more than an extended wrestling match between Chris Kunitz and Tom Wilson — who made a run at Kunitz but missed — things stayed relatively tame. It played out similarly to Pittsburgh's victories in Washington to open the series. The Capitals would get extended pressure on Fleury only to be stopped while the Penguins expertly counterattacked.
An emotional and energetic start and a dash of luck allowed Pittsburgh to build a 2-0 lead. Hornqvist took a feed from Olli Maatta and beat a pair of Washington defenders to break in on Holtby. A flick of Hornqvist's wrists and the puck sailed over Holtby's glove and under the crossbar 4:39 into the first period.
Loyola's Mathis selectedfor Patriot academic award
Loyola Maryland senior Bailey Mathis was named the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women's lacrosse. She was joined by her teammate sophomore Kristen Yanchoris (Century) on the 13-member Patriot League All-Academic team. Navy's Marie Valenti was also honored.
More honors: Seven players on No. 1 Maryland were named to the All-Big Ten team. Senior midfielder Zoe Stukenberg (Marriotts Ridge), senior defender Nadine Hadnagy, junior attacker Megan Whittle (McDonogh) and sophomore goalie Megan Taylor (Glenelg) were unanimous selections. Senior attacker Caroline Wannen, sophomore defender Julia Braig (St. Paul's) and sophomore midfielder Jen Giles (Mount Hebron) also made the team. ...Johns Hopkins had three players named to the team. Senior midfielder Haley Schweizer was a unanimous selection and senior defender Nevi Fernandez (St. Paul's) and junior attacker Emily Kenul joined her on the team.
—From Sun staff and news services