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Pens tie Caps, Bruins on brink

SIDNEY Crosby outshone Alex Ovechkin in their latest duel to power the Pittsburgh Penguins to a series-tying 5-3 victory over the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference semifinal playoffs on Friday.

Also in the East, the top-seeded Boston Bruins are on the verge of elimination after crashing to a 1-4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, and now trail 1-3 in the series.

The 21-year-old Crosby scored a goal and had an assist as Pittsburgh leveled its series against the Capitals 2-2.

The win came at a cost, however, as key defenseman Sergei Gonchar was forced to leave the game in the first period after a controversial knee-to-knee hit from Ovechkin, the clash leaving the Russian in doubt for Game 5.

"In terms of replacing him, you don't replace No. 55," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma told reporters. "But we have depth at the defensive position for a reason and we'll be confident going forward that we can do it."

The Penguins attacked ferociously in the first period to take a 3-1 lead through goals from Gonchar, Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko.

The Capitals pulled to within 3-2 after a goal from Chris Clark at 15:08 in the second, but Crosby responded with a tip-in goal early in the third.

Maxime Talbot later put the finishing touches on the contest with a wrister at 14:46.

Capitals leading winger Ovechkin had one assist but was limited to just two shots on goal.

At Raleigh, North Carolina, the Hurricanes scored three third-period goals to win their third straight game against the Bruins after an opening loss.

Eric Staal became Carolina's all-time playoff top scorer with his two goals.

Center Staal, who has nine postseason goals, delivered the Hurricanes' first on a powerplay and wrapped up the scoring on an even-strength goal with 4:19 remaining.

Jussi Jokinen chipped in with a goal at 2:52 in the third, breaking a 1-1 tie on a powerplay.

His sixth goal for the postseason also marked his fourth game-winning or score-tying goal in these playoffs.

Boston, outplayed in the first period, rallied in the second to level the score on Marc Savard's powerplay shot.

Despite sweeping their opening series against Montreal and dominating Carolina in the opener, the wheels have suddenly fallen off the Boston machine. "We picked the worst time of the year to play our worst hockey of the year," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "There isn't anybody who's played up to his potential."


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