- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

Three times this season the Pittsburgh Penguins abused the Washington Capitals, and star rookie Sidney Crosby outperformed his Caps’ counterpart.

The Caps and Alex Ovechkin, though, got some payback last night in the teams’ final scheduled meeting this year with a 6-3 victory at Verizon Center.

In the three previous matchups, the Penguins held a 19-8 edge in goals, scoring eight times on power plays. But last night Washington scored twice with the man advantage while shutting Pittsburgh’s power play down, and Ovechkin emerged as top rookie.

The Washington left wing scored his 42nd goal of the season and assisted on two others while Crosby was held to one assist. Ovechkin now has a 10-point lead on his Pittsburgh rival and only one other rookie in league history, Teemu Selanne of the Winnipeg Jets, had more goals in his initial campaign. Selanne had 76 in 1992-93, a figure that may never be challenged.

Ben Clymer (his 12th), Chris Clark (his 13th on his 30th birthday), Ivan Majesky (his first in two years), Dainius Zubrus (14th) and Matt Pettinger (15th) also scored for Washington to back up the goaltending of Olie Kolzig, who made 22 saves.

Crosby finished with three goals and six assists in the four meetings between the teams. Ovechkin, meanwhile, had three goals and three assists.

“It’s not for me. It’s for our team to help win the game, and because we lost three games [to Pittsburgh], I didn’t think about points,” Ovechkin said. “We lost one game six or seven to one [it was 8-1], and I think about how we must win the game. We win the game, and that [is] important for us right now.”

Said Crosby, shortly before Ovechkin visited the Penguins dressing room: “All four games this year, he’s played well. He’s a dynamic player, and he creates a lot out here. He made a lot happen. The competition is always high when we play each other. That’s to be expected. It’s just the way it goes — someone has to come out on top.”

The goal that put Washington ahead for good was short-handed late in the first period, Majesky’s first of the season and just the eighth in his career. It certainly is the most unusual goal Washington has scored and might be the goal of the year.

With the Caps killing a penalty, Majesky was near the boards just above the left circle, at least 150 feet from the opposing net. Trying to relieve some pressure, he lofted a dump-in toward the other end of the ice. The puck bounced twice before veering suddenly and sharply to the right on the third. Goalie Sebastien Caron was helpless and thoroughly embarrassed.

“It was a lucky bounce,” said Majesky, still laughing about it after the game. “It’s in, so that’s all it’s about. The goalie, I don’t know. He just went out, and the puck was like [on its side].”

Said Caron: “It bounced one way. It bounced the other way, just really weird. It’s always tough when those types of things happen. Just a nightmare of a goal.”

Caps defenseman Brendan Witt, who is expected to be traded today, did not play last night, a clear indication a deal was nearing its conclusion. General manager George McPhee could not be reached for comment.

Notes — Tomorrow night’s game against New Jersey is also Youth Hockey Night with a youth game before the NHL contest and a high school all-star game afterward. …

Defenseman Jamie Heward missed his second straight game with an upper body injury. No official word was given on when he will return, but he’s not expected to be out long. It was the 150th man-game the Caps have lost to injury this season. …

Crosby wears No. 87 on his sweater, representing the year he was born. …

A pigeon who has taken up residence inside Verizon Center entertained fans as it tried to peck crumbs off the ice while the game was in progress. Players had to make quick cuts a few times to avoid the bird.

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