Pittsburgh Penguins Finally Defeat Washington, Top Caps 4-3


After coming up short against the Washington Capitals three times this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally managed to top their longtime rivals, earning a 4-3 victory tonight to avoid the season sweep.

The Pens have seen their offence come back to life as of late due to some astute lineup changes by head coach Mike Johnston, and the team kept up the offensive pressure tonight against Washington.

Feisty winger Patric Hornqvist started things off seven minutes into the game after a beautiful set up from Evgeni Malkin.

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Malkin took the puck from linemate Chris Kunitz and streaked into the Caps’ zone before dropping the puck off to Hornqvist on the right side. The burly Swede made no mistake, whipping the puck at the net and beating Washington netminder Braden Holtby for his 19th goal of the season.

With two minutes left in the first, captain Sidney Crosby was sent to the box for holding, giving Washington a powerplay.

Despite the man-advantage, it was Pittsburgh that came up with another goal as Brandon Sutter rushed up the right wing and broke in alone on Holtby.

Sutter hinted at a shot before pulling the puck to his backhand and roofing it over Holtby, giving the Pens their fifth shorthanded goal of the year and taking the score to 2-0.

The Caps answered with a goal of their own in the final seconds of the period, however, as defensemen John Carlson got on the board to make it 2-1.

In a second period that saw Pittsburgh dominate the Caps, outshooting them 12-5, captain Sidney Crosby fittingly tallied the only goal of the frame.

Three minutes into the second, the Pens were awarded a powerplay. Malkin started the rush off, pushing into the zone with some dazzling stick handling. After dishing to Chris Kunitz, who fired it wide of the cage, the puck ended up back on Malkin’s stick at the point. He slipped it to Crosby, who fired it into the net for his 20th goal of the season.

As the third period began – with the Pens up 3-1 and the Caps being outshot 20 to 11 – the Caps ramped up the pressure and nearly stole the game back.

Troy Brouwer started it off four minutes in, scoring the Caps’ second goal of the game to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to one.

Evgeni Malkin, already putting forth one of his finest performances of the season, came up with another huge play to keep things tilted decidedly in Pittsburgh’s favour, however.

Stealing the puck in the neutral zone with a well-timed poke check, Malkin rushed up ice, again showcasing some slick stickhandling before firing on net. The puck missed the cage but bounced off the boards to Blake Comeau, who quickly passed it to the crease-crashing Kunitz.

The goal was Kunitz’s 16th of the season, and gave Malkin his third assist on the night.

With the score at 4-3 heading into the final five minutes of the game, the Capitals went on the power play and Washington captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his league-leading 39th goal of the season from his usual spot on the left side, cutting the Pens’ lead to one.

Pittsburgh looked to be in danger heading into the final minutes of the game, but goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury held on for the win.

The victory gives the Pens 79 points on the year, ranking them third in the Metropolitan Division.

Their next test will come on Mar. 1st against the Columbus Blue Jackets – another team they’ve had quite a bit of trouble with this season.