Alex Ovechkin scored two goals, one at even strength and one on the power play, to lead the Washington Capitals to a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
Center Eric Fehr and defenseman Mike Green added third-period goals, and center Nicklas Backstrom assisted on both of Ovechkin’s goals as the Capitals (25-14-9) snapped a four-game losing streak.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” Fehr said. “It’s not hard to get up for a game against the Penguins, and I thought that every single guy on our team brought it tonight.”
Before Wednesday, Washington hadn’t won a game since Jan. 14 — the last of their remarkable stretch of picking up at least one point in the standings in 18 of 19 games.
That’s because, coach Barry Trotz said before the game, the Capitals had been allowing their opponents to dictate the pace and flow of the game more than they themselves had been doing.
They were able to match the intensity of their opponents on Wednesday, going toe-to-toe with the physical, frustrating Penguins.
“If you go up and down the lineup, I thought we played with a lot of purpose, a lot of order,” Trotz said. “We had a plan, and we worked the plan. That was more of the team that I’m used to seeing.”
Ovechkin, who now holds the league lead with 29 goals — and 13 on the power play — put Washington ahead 4:50 into the game when he redirected a shot by Karl Alzner from the left point just above Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s right pad.
His second goal, 17:19 into the second period, was typical Ovechkin. The left wing took the feed from Green in the left faceoff circle and blasted a one-timer nearside past Fleury.
The goals were the first for Ovechkin at home against the Penguins since Feb. 7, 2010 — a stretch of eight games. They also gave him his 93rd career multi-goal game, moving him into a tie with right wing Peter Bondra for the most in franchise history.
Fehr scored his 15th goal of the season 11:02 into the third period, taking advantage of a turnover caused by a strong forecheck by left wing Brooks Laich and flipping the puck into the net from a sharp angle to Fleury’s right.
Green added his fifth goal of the season just shy of a minute and a half later, drilling a snapper on a 2-on-1 with center Evgeny Kuznetsov feeding the puck past defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.
A physical game at the start, Capitals right wing Tom Wilson and Penguins left wing Zach Still fought just over 13 minutes into the first period. It was the eighth fight of the season for Wilson, who had not dropped his gloves since Dec. 18. Then, 10:41 into the third period, center Michael Latta and right wing Steve Downie engaged, not long after Downie couldn’t goad Wilson into fisticuffs.
The Capitals’ third-period offense charged the Penguins, with chippy play in the two minutes following Green’s goal leading to a colossal hit from Ovechkin on Pittsburgh defenseman Christian Ehrhoff with 5:57 remaining. That sent the two teams into a ruckus in front of the Penguins’ bench.
Braden Holtby stopped 27 shots for his fifth shutout of the season. The Capitals, who finished 1-for-3 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, also won 61.9 percent of their faceoffs, with Fehr taking 17 of 22 — a good number of them against center Sidney Crosby.
Fleury had 32 saves for Pittsburgh (27-13-8), which has lost four of five after defeating the Winnipeg Jets at home on Tuesday.
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