Capitals defeat Penguins, remain tied for Metropolitan lead
Dowd has three points for Washington, which gets first win in three gamesby Wes Crosby / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
PITTSBURGH -- The Washington Capitals remained tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 5-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.
Nic Dowd had two goals and an assist, and Braden Holtby made 26 saves for the Capitals (41-20-7), who avoided a third straight loss. They are tied with the Philadelphia Flyers, who defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Saturday.
"Always a tough building to come into and play," Washington coach Todd Reirden said. "For the most part, a really good team effort. A lot of contributions from everybody. Gladly take two points."
[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Penguins highlights]
Sidney Crosby scored in a third straight game and had an assist, and Matt Murray made 23 saves for the Penguins (39-22-6), who have lost seven of their past nine games in regulation. They are third in the Metropolitan, five points behind the Capitals and Flyers.
"It just boils down to discipline, to details and making sure we pay attention," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "We have an awareness on the ice. We make better decisions. We support one another."
Dowd gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead on a one-timer from the slot at 1:52 of the first period.
Video: WSH@PIT: Dowd buries one-timer in the slot
Nicklas Backstrom made it 2-0 by beating Penguins center Evgeni Malkin to a pass from Jakub Vrana before scoring on a wrist shot near the left post at 16:15 of the first.
Richard Panik extended the lead to 3-0 with a wrist shot near the right post at 18:38 of the first.
Jared McCann was given a penalty shot after being hooked by Jonas Siegenthaler on a breakaway with 1:12 remaining in the second period. Holtby made a save with his right pad on a wrist shot by McCann, who has not scored in 20 straight games.
Dowd scored 34 seconds into the third period, making it 4-0 on a wrist shot at the end of a shorthanded 2-on-1. He had two assists in his previous 24 games.
"As a team and as players, you want to respond," Dowd said. "The NHL is built to where you play games every other day. You have the ability to respond if you don't like the way your game's going. It's not like I'm looking to go out there and score goals. Yeah, it's great, but at the same time, just be responsible and play good defense.
"That leads to offense like it did tonight. We're not going to show up on the stat sheet every night as a fourth line, but we're going to do the little things."
Crosby tapped in a pass from Conor Sheary outside the crease, making it 4-1 at 5:09 of the third. Malkin made it 4-2 on the power play at 12:16.
"I think our compete was there," Crosby said. "We made some bad reads. A team like that, that's pretty opportunistic, they're not going to make mistakes."
Video: WSH@PIT: Crosby finishes off the feed from Sheary
T.J. Oshie scored on a wrist shot from the slot set up by Backstrom for the 5-2 final with 6:48 remaining.
They said it
"This was a good game for us to kind of feel how it usually feels in this room with everyone working for each other, everyone working hard and playing hard. [Holtby] obviously being great in the net there again. So this is something we can build on. We can use a lot of clips from today as positive reinforcement of what we have to do moving forward and how we have to play, and how many people we need involved on a shift to shift basis." -- Capitals forward T.J. Oshie
"We have everything to win. But again, we understand it's not easy. It starts with the power play. It starts with my line. Every line. I'm not happy with my game right now too. We look at each other. We try to play easy. It's not our game." -- Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin
Need to know
Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who did not have a shot on goal, has not scored a point in the first three of four games against the Penguins this season. He had three points (two goals, one assist) in four games against Pittsburgh last season. … Holtby allowed fewer than three goals for the first time in seven games. He allowed four goals over three games from Feb. 10-15 before giving up 21 goals in his following six starts. ... Defenseman Kris Letang played his 806th game with the Penguins. That ties him with Jaromir Jagr for fourth in their history behind Crosby (982), Mario Lemieux (915) and Malkin (905). … Murray started a third straight game for the first time since he started eight in a row from Oct. 26-Nov. 15.
Capitals: At the Buffalo Sabres on Monday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, TVAS, MSG-B, NBCSWA, NHL.TV)
Penguins: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday (1:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, TVAS, ATTSN-PT, FS-CR, NHL.TV)