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game recap

Marc-Andre Fleury makes 39 saves, Penguins win opener

Defeat Capitals in shootout after raising Stanley Cup banner

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury put on a show Thursday.

After Fleury made 39 saves through overtime, Phil Kessel scored in the fourth round of the shootout to help the Penguins defeat the Washington Capitals 3-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday.

Kessel shot off the crossbar and in, and Fleury made a save on Alex Ovechkin to seal the victory. Fleury stopped Evgeny Kuznetsov but allowed Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie to score in the tiebreaker.

Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang also scored in the shootout for Pittsburgh.

Fleury earned his first win since March 31, when he sustained his second of two concussions last season.

"It was fun," Fleury said. "It was a little tiring. Usually, the first game of the season you're trying to get rid of a little bit of nerves and get back into it. It's definitely good to win a game."

The Penguins, who raised their Stanley Cup banner before the game, defeated the Capitals in six games in the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: WSH@PIT: Penguins raise 2016 Stanley Cup banner

Washington goalie Braden Holtby, who made 28 saves, wasn't surprised by the intensity in the season opener for each team.

"Obviously, they have a lot of energy coming from the ceremony and such, and we've been ready to play some games with some meaning for a while here," Holtby said. "Two good teams, and it always ends up in a pretty good game against them."

Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky opened the scoring with the first of his two goals 59 seconds into the first period, when Backstrom slipped a pass by defenseman Trevor Daley's stick to Burakovsky, who shot through Fleury's five-hole.

The Capitals had additional chances to extend their lead but could not score on two first-period power plays.

Pittsburgh took advantage of its defensive stand when forward Patric Hornqvist scored a power-play goal at 8:47 of the second period to tie it 1-1. Letang carried the puck across the blue line before sending a wrist shot through traffic. Hornqvist deflected it off the post and behind Holtby.

The goal was upheld after a video review.

Malkin gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead with 1:08 remaining in the second period before Burakovsky scored again 6:13 into the third period.

The Penguins played without captain Sidney Crosby, who is day to day with a concussion. Center Matt Cullen took Crosby's place between left wing Conor Sheary and Hornqvist.


Goal of the game

Malkin slipped behind the Capitals defense late in the second period and corralled a pass from Sheary. He slowly deked from left to right in front of Washington's crease and slid a shot off the toe of Holtby's left pad, off the right post, off Holtby's pad again, and into the net.

Video: WSH@PIT: Malkin slips puck around Holtby for a lead


Save of the game

Marcus Johansson received a pass behind the Penguins defense and cruised toward Fleury, who fell while attempting a pokecheck. Johansson slid the puck under Fleury's stick and drug it around to the left side of the net. Fleury recovered by rolling over on his back to slap away the puck before Johansson could shoot at 12:34 of the third period.

Video: WSH@PIT: Fleury halts Johansson's breakaway rush


Highlight of the game

Backstrom connected with Burakovsky for a second time to tie it 2-2 at 6:13 of the third period. Backstrom charged into the Penguins zone and dropped a pass to Burakovsky, setting him up for a wrist shot he sent into the right side of the net.

Video: WSH@PIT: Burakovsky's second goal ties game in 3rd


Unsung moment of the game

The Capitals went on their first power play 6:33 into the first period with a chance to take a 2-0 lead after Tom Kuhnhackl skated into Holtby behind the net. Pittsburgh shut down Washington's power play to stay within one goal until Hornqvist scored in the second period.


They said it

"I didn't show my game. I'm a little bit [ticked] off and a little bit mad at myself. I worked hard these last two weeks and I want to play more with the puck. Coach gave me lots of time today. I'm just trying to show my best, but it's a good game and a good win." -- Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin


"I thought we showed signs of playing the game the right way as we define it and then we had other moments where we didn't play quite as smart or as thorough or as diligent." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

Video: WSH@PIT: Hornqvist deflects Letang's shot past Holtby


"We're just focusing on one game at a time. That's all we can do. I think we have to do that and learn from every game. I think we'll learn something from tonight, move on and get better." -- Capitals forward Marcus Johansson

Video: WSH@PIT: Holtby brushes off Bonino's chance in close


Need to know

Penguins forward Bryan Rust did not play because of an undisclosed injury that held him out of training camp. … Capitals forward Zachary Sanford, 21, made his NHL debut. Washington selected Sanford in the second round (No. 61) of the 2013 NHL Draft.


What's next

Capitals: Home against the New York Islanders on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, MSG+, NHL.TV)

Penguins: Home against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, ROOT, PRIME, NHL.TV)

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