Penguins come home with 5-0 record on the road
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WASHINGTON -- Sidney Crosby got the only shootout goal to give the Penguins a 4-3 victory against Washington at the Verizon Center today.
The Penguins finished their five-game road trip with a 5-0 record, a franchise first.
The victory lifted the Penguins (35-26-6) in a three-way tie with Florida and the New York Rangers for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The top eight teams qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped Alexander Semin, Viktor Kozlov and Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals during the shootout, while Washington goalie Jose Theodore denied Kris Letang of the Penguins.
The Penguins played without right winger Petr Sykora, who is believed to have a shoulder injury.
Crosby gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 4:29 of the opening period when he capped a two-on-one break by putting a Bill Guerin pass behind Capitals goalie Jose Theodore for his 25th of the season. Chris Kunitz got the other assist.
The Penguins subsequently survived two Washington power plays, but the Capitals pulled even at 12:46 after a terrible giveaway by Letang.
Letang had the puck behind his goal line and, when he tried to shoot it up ice, hit Washington center Nicklas Backstrom, who was standing a few feet in front of him. Backstrom promptly fed it to Alexander Semin, who broke down the slot and threw a backhander past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Penguins killed another penalty a few minutes later -- the Capitals had the only three man-advantages during the first 20 minutes -- and Theodore made the save of the period by denying Crosby at 17:10, after he chased down a loose puck in the Washington zone then charged toward the Washington net.
Theodore made another clutch stop at 6:06 of the second, as he denied Evgeni Malkin from in front of the net, but couldn't prevent Sergei Gonchar from putting the Penguins back in front during a four-on-three power play at 7:25.
Gonchar, playing in his 10th game since returning from shoulder surgery, drove a 45-foot slap shot past Theodore from the left side of the slot for his third. Guerin, who set an effective screen in front of Theodore as Gonchar was shooting, and Letang received the assists.
Guerin, acquired from the New York Islanders Wednesday, picked up his third point of the day at 10:54, when he took a pass from Crosby and, after dragging the puck around Capitals defenseman Shaone(cq) Morrisonn,(cq) threw a high shot past Theodore for his 17th.
Kunitz got the second assist, his seventh point in five games since being acquired from Anaheim in the Ryan Whitney trade Feb. 26.
The Capitals seized the momentum during the first two minutes of the third period, as Ovechkin and Brooks Laich scored 49 seconds apart to tie the score .
Ovechkin picked up a power-play goal 29 seconds into the period by beating Fleury from near the left dot and, after a sloppy personnel change by the Penguins, Laich took a long lead pass from David Steckel and scored on a breakaway at 1:18 for the final goal of regulation or overtime.
The Penguins will face the Florida Panthers at 7:38 Tuesday night at Mellon Arena.
First Published March 8, 2009 6:56 pm