Minus Crosby, Penguins edge Capitals 3-2 to take 3-1 lead

Crosby is in the concussion protocol, according to Sullivan, and listed as day-to-day.

"There's no doubt we played a strong game", NY coach Alain Vigneault said.

"The best way to make them pay is winning", Fleury said.

Blues' comeback falls short as Preds take 3-1 series lead NASHVILLE, Tenn.

This isn't how it was supposed to go for the Washington Capitals.

Crosby sat out Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory in Game 4 of its Eastern Conference semifinal against Washington on Wednesday night.

The Penguins were missing center Sidney Crosby, their best player and arguably the best player in the world, and right wing Conor Sheary after each sustained a concussion in Game 3.

The first, as mentioned above, was Marc-Andre Fleury. Now, they trail the Penguins 3-1 - as they did last season - and know this is probably it for them if they don't find a way to rewrite the end of the script.

Niskanen received a five-minute major and a game misconduct after his stick caught his former teammate across the jaw.

Pittsburgh's Patric Hornqvist started the scoring in the first period, and teammates Jake Guentzel and Justin Schultz each scored in a four-goal second period, with Schultz's proving to be the victor. The Penguins put just nine shots on goal in the final two periods, while the Capitals fired 26 pucks Fleury's way.

"We had some golden opportunities to score goals", forward T.J. Oshie told reporters in Pittsburgh. Instead, they've left the Capitals staggering going back to Washington.

Just over a minute later, Nate Schmidt ripped a shot past an out-of-position Fleury to tie the game. Patching holes is something Sullivan and his staff have grown used to. "We made some in-game adjustments to our line combinations, based on how the game was being played and what we saw, and we went from there". Four days later, Crosby was driven into the boards by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.

ABOUT THE PENGUINS: While Crosby remains the face of the league, fellow former Hart Trophy victor Evgeni Malkin leads the NHL with 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in eight playoff games and is no stranger to picking up the slack in the absence of "Sid the Kid". He missed the first couple weeks of this season with a concussion but returned to lead the National Hockey League in goals, part of a remarkable run that saw him lead the Penguins to the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup last summer while earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Crosby frequently skated while working back from his previous three concussions, and those instances came at various points of his recovery processes and didn't always indicate he was nearing a return.

Ian Laperriere took a puck to the face during the Flyers' run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final and was heralded as a hero, even though post-concussion symptoms blamed on the blow ended his career the following fall.

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