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game recap

Vanecek, Capitals defeat Penguins, end four-game losing streak

Makes 26 saves to help Washington hand Pittsburgh first loss at home

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

Vrana's quick release beats Jarry

WSH@PIT: Vrana hammers home an Oshie pass

Jakub Vrana gets a beautiful cross ice pass from T.J. Oshie and rips a shot over Tristan Jarry's shoulder, giving the Capitals a 2-0 lead

  • 00:37 •

PITTSBURGH -- Vitek Vanecek made 26 saves to help the Washington Capitals end a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday. 

"It's not fun losing. It's fun winning," Vanecek said. "I was just focusing, focusing every time and trying to do the best for the team. They helped me a lot today and we won. That's a good thing." 

Conor Sheary, Jakub Vrana and Lars Eller scored for the Capitals (7-4-3), who lost 6-3 to the Penguins on Sunday. Washington had not won since Jan. 30, 4-3 in overtime against the Boston Bruins. 

Tristan Jarry made a season-high 39 saves, and Zach-Aston Reese scored for the Penguins (7-6-1), who lost for the first time in six home games this season.

"I thought Tristan played a solid game tonight. Certainly made some big saves for us," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "We've just got to find a way to play the game and respond the right way."

Sheary gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 4:52 of the second period. After taking a pass from Richard Panik in the right circle, Sheary scored glove side for his fifth goal in seven games against his former team. 

Pittsburgh has trailed in each of its 14 games this season. 

Video: WSH@PIT: Sheary scores upstairs from the slot

Brandon Tanev had a chance to tie it on a shorthanded breakaway at 9:41 of the second but had the puck slip off his stick blade while trying to go to his backhand. 

Vrana scored for the second time in two games since returning from NHL COVID-19 protocol, making it 2-0 with a wrist shot glove side from the right circle at 11:31 of the second. 

The Capitals outshot the Penguins 18-5 in the period. They lost their first three games against the Penguins this season, including a 4-3 shootout loss on Jan. 17 and a 5-4 overtime loss on Jan. 19. 

"I think the effort was really good tonight," Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. "It seemed like everybody was on point and dialed in, and ready to play. I said it, it's hard when you lose a hockey game, especially when it's your fourth one. There were a lot of things that I liked last game. We just needed to clean it up a little bit.  

"I thought tonight was cleaner. They pushed a little bit in the third. Vitek made some saves for us that he needed to make. Overall, it was pretty good, pretty strong."  

Video: WSH@PIT: Eller finds the twine with a one-timer

Eller made it 3-0 on a wrist shot from just outside the crease after Panik passed between Kris Letang's legs at 1:09 of the third period.

"[The Penguins] are a good hockey club over there," Capitals forward T.J. Oshie said. "We've had some trouble with them this year. Defensively, offensively, special teams-wise, I think that's our most complete game of the year. Something to be happy about and build on going forward here." 

Aston-Reese cut it to 3-1 with a wrist shot at 15:05 of the third. He has one goal in each of his three games since returning from offseason shoulder surgery. 

"I had mentioned last week, a lot of hesitation giving and receiving hits," Aston-Reese said. "Having to get surgery kind of made me take a step back and think about why I have been getting injured and what I can change. I did change a few off-ice habits. Clean up up my diet. … Bunch of little things, but they all add up, and I think it's starting to show." 

NOTES: Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom (19 points; seven goals, 12 assists) had an assist on Vrana's goal. He has at least one point in 12 of 14 games this season, tied with Bruins forward Brad Marchand for the most games with a point in the MassMutual East Division. ... Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson returned after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. He had two shots on goal and one hit playing 14:19. … Pittsburgh's line of center Sidney Crosby, left wing Jake Guentzel and right wing Bryan Rust combined for three 5-on-5 shots. It combined for eight points (four goals, four assists) on Sunday.

Video: Vanecek, Vrana help lead Capitals to a 3-1 victory

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