Jaromir Jagr, barely able get a shot off the entire game, accidentally scored the series-winner with a pass.
Jagr's cross-ice feed from the right wing was deflected into the net by Washington Capitals defenceman Calle Johansson with 12:04 to play Friday night, giving the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 victory that ended the first-round Eastern Conference series in five games.
Johansson let out a cry of disbelief, then stood with his stick and hands on his knees for several seconds after realizing he had knocked in the goal that repeated a familiar scenario from the Capitals' past: great regular season, lousy playoffs.
The Penguins have been the biggest culprit, winning five of six playoff series against the Caps over the past decade. They won this one with a 7-0 rout in Game 1, followed by three victories in four consecutive one-goal games in which little separated the teams.
The Capitals were the No. 2 seed. Pittsburgh was No. 7, but that was considered an aberration because Jagr, the NHL's regular-season scoring leader, missed 19 games. He had 10 points in this series, including three goals.
But Jagr was silenced most of Friday's game, held to only one shot the first two periods as the Capitals forced the usually fluid Penguins into a tight-checking, dump-and-chase game. Pittsburgh also missed forward Jan Hrdina, who had four goals in the first three games, for the second consecutive game with a muscle strain, forcing coach Herb Brooks to reshuffle his lines.
Tyler Wright scored his second goal of the series in the first period for the Penguins. Sergei Gonchar netted his first of the playoffs for the Capitals, who lost at home for only the ninth time all season.
The Capitals once again dominated the faceoffs, attributable in part to Hrdina's absence, but the Pittsburgh defence did another superb job of protecting goaltender Ron Tugnutt. Pittsburgh skaters blocked 18 shots in the first two periods.
Each team scored in the first period, but both were typical Penguins goals, resulting from rare times when a shooter was given too much space to nail a big drive.
Wright drove one past goaltender Olaf Kolzig from the left faceoff circle at 5:52. Kolzig guessed stick side; Wright shot glove side. It was the type of play the Capitals have been relying on Kolzig to stop all season, but Kolzig found it harder to do against the Penguins' skilled Europeans.
Gonchar, given space down the middle of the ice, crossed the blue-line and beat Tugnutt high to the stick side at 10:02. It was the first point of the series for Gonchar, a streaky player who was key to Washington's Stanley Cup finals run two years ago.
Washington forward Chris Simon got a pair in the first period -- a pair of television cameras. Sent off the ice for slashing, Simon flung a spare puck over the glass and then booted the two TV cameras that sit at foot of the penalty box. He was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
The rest of the game was distinctly Capitals hockey: tight checking, lots of traffic and few odd-man rushes. The Penguins were unable to capitalize on the rare opportunities to display their finesse: a 4-on-2 break ended with a bad pass, a 2-on-2 was disrupted by a line change.
Washington outshot Pittsburgh 26-17, but when the Capitals finally put the puck in the net a second time, it was the wrong net.