WASHINGTON (AP) — T.J. Oshie scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period, Braden Holtby made 33 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Sunday to snap their losing streak at four and leapfrog their archrivals into first place.
The Capitals endured a back-and-forth, chippy game to win for just the second time in their past eight games. The team that led the NHL for much of the season showed the kind of resolve that was lacking during a recent stretch of futility.
Despite being outshot 36-23, Washington put together responses to some potential momentum-crushing Penguins goals. Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist and Sidney Crosby scored 26 seconds apart late in the second and Evgeni Malkin had a highlight-reel goal in the third that tied it.
Tom Wilson scored 76 seconds into the third to make it 2-2, two-time Penguins Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin put the Capitals up and Oshie shoveled the puck in on a scramble in front with 9:20 left. Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray allowed four goals on 22 shots, though Washington’s first from Jakub Vrana came when defender Marcus Pettersson knocked the puck in and bowled over Murray, with the net coming off its moorings.
Holtby was victimized on a nearly identical play on Crosby’s goal when Oshie knocked it in. But the 2018 Cup-winning goalie continued his strong play of late and made big saves when the Capitals needed him to end their skid.
Pittsburgh has now lost three in a row to cool off and fall into second in the competitive Metropolitan Division. Despite Crosby’s eighth goal in 16 games since returning from injury, his frustration was visible in the third period when he snapped his stick on the bench.
Such frustration had recently belonged to the Capitals, who lost eight of their previous 11. But Hagelin scored an empty-netter with under a minute left to seal the win.
NOTES: With an assist on Wilson’s goal, John Carlson passed Calle Johansson to take over the Capitals franchise lead for points by a defenseman. … Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas rejoined the lineup after being a healthy scratch Saturday at New Jersey. Jonas Siegenthaler was scratched. … Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson was shaken up on Vrana’s goal but returned after missing a couple of shifts. … Pittsburgh forward Dominik Kahun took warmups but missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury. … Andrew Agozzino played in place of Kahun despite going on waivers Sunday at noon. … Cpl. Woody Williams, the last surviving War World II Pacific Theater Medal of Honor recipient who helped win the Battle of Iwo Jima, was honored during a break in the second period.
Penguins: Open a three-game California swing Wednesday at the Los Angeles Kings.
Capitals: Host the Jets Tuesday and visit Winnipeg on Thursday in a home-and-home series.
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