Nick Bonino put a rebound past Braden Holtby 6 minutes 32 seconds into overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night to wrap up the hotly contested Eastern Conference semifinal series in six games.
The Capitals rallied from a three-goal deficit over the final 22 minutes of regulation, but Bonino’s second goal of the playoffs sent the Penguins to the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay.
Holtby made the initial stop on Carl Hagelin but Bonino, camped right outside the crease, tapped in the winner.
Washington forward Jay Beagle made a remarkable save from his belly in front of the net on Patric Hornqvist early in overtime but there was no stopping Bonino’s tap-in.
Phil Kessel scored twice for Pittsburgh and Hagelin added a goal for Pittsburgh.
Rookie Matt Murray made 36 saves as the Penguins continued their playoff mastery over the Capitals.
T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams and John Carlson scored during Washington’s comeback, but it wasn’t enough.
Nine times the longtime rivals have met in the playoffs. Eight times the post-series handshake line has ended with Pittsburgh celebrating while Washington trudges toward the off-season.
The Presidents’ Trophy winners avoided elimination with a solid 3-1 win in Game 5 but the Penguins — who squandered 3-1 series leads in the 2011 and 2014 playoffs — preached patience and pointed to their remarkable resiliency under Mike Sullivan, who took over as coach in mid-December.
Pittsburgh ended the regular season as the hottest team in the league and has now cruised through two rounds by relying on the depth General Manager Jim Rutherford has cultivated behind stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
All but two of Pittsburgh’s 15 goals during the series were scored by players who were not on the roster when Rutherford replaced Ray Shero two summers ago. That group includes Kessel, acquired from Toronto last July to take some of the scoring load off Pittsburgh’s two franchise cornerstones, Hagelin and Bonino, who were Pittsburgh’s best line in the series.