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“He got my head, for sure,” Crosby said. “But I can’t comment on it. I don’t even know. Maybe it was so far behind the play the officials didn’t see it.”

It was a physical game throughout, as Capitals-Penguins games usually are. The Eastern Conference teams have maintained one of the NHL’s best rivalries for years, one that accelerated when Crosby and Malkin joined the Penguins and Ovechkin the Capitals. Pittsburgh beat Washington in a classic seven-game playoff series in 2008 _ indoors, of course _ en route to winning the Stanley Cup.

Playing at night allowed the Penguins‘ dark blue sweaters and Capitals‘ old-style white and red to show up well on television, and the red and blue lines _ lit by the huge banks of lights in an NFL stadium _ appeared brighter than ever.

Penguins forward Jordan Staal, out all season with an infected right foot and a broken right hand, played his first game in nearly eight months. He showed a lot of jump early, but didn’t figure in the scoring.

Varlamov had a lot to do with that.

“It shows he can play in pressure situations,” Boudreau said. “He sort of just took it mentally on him that he wasn’t going to allow anything. He’s making a great case for being the No. 1 goalie.”