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Penguins 8, Capitals 1 @NHLdotcom

PITTSBURGH (AP) - When Mario Lemieux retired Tuesday, he remarked how the NHL was in good shape with so many talented young players - particularly on his team, one that is stacked with rookies.

But the Pittsburgh Penguins' remaining veterans aren't ready to pass the torch just yet.

On a night billed as a showdown between top rookies Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, 37-year-old Mark Recchi and 36-year-old John LeClair each had two goals to lead the Penguins to a 8-1 win over the Washington Capitals.

Pittsburgh used a five-goal third-period to help break a 10-game losing streak.

"We did a lot of good things tonight," LeClair said. "We did some things right like make the passes and take all the bounces our way. Getting the bounces was the big key tonight."

Crosby got the better of Ovechkin individually, too. He had a goal and three assists, while Ovechkin had the lone Washington goal.

"It was just the matter of taking advantage of our chances and making things happen," Crosby said. "When we move the puck good things happen. It's not like we haven't been doing that in the past. It's just that they haven't been going in. It was nice to see them go in tonight."

Ovechkin also was at the center of mini-controversy. Pittsburgh defenseman Ryan Whitney received a spearing major and a game misconduct as time expired in the second period for shoving his stick into what appeared to be Ovechkin's mid-section.

The 20-year-old laid on the ice for several minutes after the hit while Whitney fought Brian Willsie and the officials handed out penalties. But Ovechkin returned for the third period.

"I don't know if its cheap shot or not," Washington defenseman Brendan Witt said. "We'll have to see the replay. Ovi's a tough kid. It takes a lot to get him down. If it's a cheap shot, we play them on the 11th (of February)."

Ovechkin declined to speak with reporters after the game.

The Penguins produced a video tribute to Lemieux and showed it on the jumbotron during the first media stoppage in play. Fans stood and clapped and the cheers became louder when Lemieux and his wife, Nathalie, were shown on the scoreboard from their luxury box.

That compelled players from both teams and the officials to join in the prolonged applause. From that point on, any time the Lemieuxs were shown on the screen, they received a small ovation. Once, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was shown sitting next to Lemieux.

"(Mario) is gone and he will be missed," Crosby said. "You never can replace him or fill in his shoes. Now there are a lot of us young guys who have to step up."

Wednesday, it was the Penguins' old guys who gave them a 4-1 lead. LeClair opened the scoring with 3:05 to play in the first on a pass from Michel Ouellet.

After Ovechkin tied the game at 1 with a power-play goal, his 34th, Crosby set up Recchi for two second-period power-play goals. Both came while Crosby faked a shot from the point and passed the puck to the opposite circle to Recchi, who one-timed shots past Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig.

"The power play really clicked tonight," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said.

LeClair made it 4-1 while on a four-on-three a minute into the third when he deflected home a Recchi shot. Crosby scored his 24th goal in the third by beating Kolzig while alone in the slot.

Ryan Malone closed out the scoring with a penalty-shot goal with 4:26 to play while the Penguins were killing a penalty.

"It was just a matter of time," Malone said. "We've been playing a lot better lately. We have all definitely seen improvement. Now we have to move forward with this win."

It was the largest margin of victory on the season for the last-place Penguins, who hadn't won since a 6-4 triumph in Montreal on Jan. 3. Only two of their 11 victories before Wednesday were by more than two goals.

"It's always frustrating when you lose that many in a row," Crosby said. "It shows a lot about us. We all believe that if we kept working the way we would it wouldn't take us long to put it all together."

Notes: Beyond the extended video tribute for Lemieux, small taped highlights and tributes from athletes and media members were displayed during several other stoppages in play. ... Pittsburgh is 12-2-0 at home against the Capitals since the 1998-99 season. ... The Capitals had won four of their last five.

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