- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009

PITTSBURGH | This edition of the Washington-Pittsburgh rivalry remained undecided through 40 minutes. Then Alex Ovechkin authored a third period to remember.

Ovechkin had two goals and an assist in the period, and the Capitals defeated the Penguins for the second time this season at Mellon Arena, winning 6-3 in front of a late-arriving sellout crowd.

“When [Ovechkin] gets into a slump and he breaks out of it, he doesn’t just break it. He BREAKS it,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That’s what Alex does. He’s a real emotional guy, and he plays on that passion, and when he gets going, he’s pretty hard to stop.”

The Caps stopped a three-game losing streak and continued to turn the momentum in this heated series. While Washington is still 4-8-2 against Pittsburgh since the 2004-05 lockout, the Caps have won two straight - including three in a row in this building for the first time since the mid-1980s - and are 3-1-1 with Boudreau in charge.

The only regulation loss came when Nicklas Backstrom put the puck in his own net in the final minute of regulation at Verizon Center last season. Nothing of the sort doomed the Caps on Wednesday night, when they were able to withstand contributions from Penguins stars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

“I think we play more aggressive in the attack zone - in the offensive zone,” Ovechkin said. “We don’t give any chances. Malkin, Crosby - they’re great players, but we don’t give them any easy chances.”

Tomas Fleischmann gave the Caps the lead 8:11 into the final period when he dove to poke home a rebound on a booming slap shot from Ovechkin. Last season’s MVP added an insurance marker at 11:27 when his centering pass intended for Backstrom went off Ryan Whitney’s skate and into the net.

Ovechkin gave the Caps a 3-2 lead 1:48 into the third. With Brooks Orpik in the box for tripping Fleischmann, Brooks Laich needed two tries to get a diagonal pass from the goal line to Ovechkin, who was cutting in from the left point. Then Ovechkin took two swings at the puck - the first hit the left goal post, and the second became his 28th goal of the season.

“Today we play hard - a lot better than [Tuesday] night,” Ovechkin said. “We work hard, we crash the net, we hit the guys and we have lots of traffic.”

Whitney leveled the score at 3-3 less than 90 seconds later. Crosby was the extra man on the ice with a delayed cross-checking call coming, and he sent a cross-ice pass to Whitney, whose blast from the left point rang off the inside of both posts and barely crossed the goal line.

Malkin had the lone goal in the first period. The Caps managed to kill off a lengthy five-on-three, but Malkin ripped a one-timer from Crosby past Caps netminder Jose Theodore at 5:45 with Donald Brashear still in the box as part of a four-minute infraction for high sticking - even though it actually was the stick of Penguins forward Eric Godard that hit Kris Letang.

Viktor Kozlov tied the score at 1-1 a little more than a minute into the second period. He took a backhanded pass from Backstrom and didn’t get all of the shot, but it fooled Marc-Andre Fleury and glanced off the inside of his elbow.

Miroslav Satan answered at 8:23 when he deposited a rebound off a shot from Max Talbot. It was Satan’s 350th career NHL goal, and 30 of them have been against Washington.

Alexander Semin knotted the score at 2-2 12:40 into the middle period. Sergei Fedorov threaded a pass from near the left wall to Semin, who was cutting to the net. The puck bounced slightly just before Semin swatted it into the net.

It was an understated goal celebration for Semin’s 17th of the season. Like his buddy Ovechkin, he heard a steady chorus of boos every time he touched the puck, which stemmed from inflammatory comments he made about Crosby to a Russian reporter in October.

“I thought [Semin and Ovechkin] did a good job of just going about their business and having chances to score and showing people that they’re good players,” Boudreau said.

Notes - Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn missed the game with a lower-body injury. Bryan Helmer was recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League to replace him. …

Caps captain Chris Clark was a healthy scratch. Eric Fehr replaced him.

Crosby twice left the game. He missed about five minutes in the first period after falling when Kozlov unintentionally slid into him, and he had to be helped off the ice by a referee in the final five minutes of the game.

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