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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Mario Lemieux is ready for the regular season to start today.

After recording four points in the Penguins' 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Sunday night at Mellon Arena, who could blame him?

"I thought it was important to finish the preseason with a win," he said.

Pittsburgh concluded its preseason slate at 2-5-2 with their only two wins coming Sept. 27 and Sunday. In those contests, the only two preseason battles for the Penguins at Mellon Arena, they outscored opponents, 14-3, with Lemieux factoring in on eight of those goals.

"We have to continue to play like that in the regular season," said Penguins winger Ziggy Palffy, who scored two goals and added an assist Sunday. "We just have to play our hockey."

The Penguins needed 1:59 to take a 1-0 lead. Rico Fata wristed a shot off Maxime Ouellet's glove. Fata tapped in the rebound. Konstantin Koltsov and Matt Murley got the assists.

The Capitals (2-4-2) tied the score with a goal off a scrum in front of the net. Jocelyn Thibault stopped a shot, but could not control the rebound. Somehow, Matt Bradley, a former Penguin, found the loose puck and poked it past Thibault with 12:05 on the clock.

Mark Recchi needed little time to give the Penguins a 2-1 advantage when he scored a power-play goal with 10:37 remaining. Recchi tapped in a cross-crease pass from Sidney Crosby. Sergei Gonchar had the other assist.

Defenseman Rob Scuderi gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 advantage with 1:34 left on the clock. His soft shot from the near point appeared to deflect off a Capitals defender as it glided into the net. Lasse Pirjeta and Murley earned assists.

Ric Jackman's power-play goal boosted the Penguins' advantage to 4-1 with 3:42 remaining in the second period. Lemieux and Gonchar earned assists.

Palffy connected on another power-play goal for a 5-1 lead with 57.7 seconds left on the clock. Ryan Malone's shot bounced off Ouellet's chest and trickled to his left. Palffy stormed down the right wing and rifled the puck into the net. Lemieux added an assist on the play.

Crosby nearly notched his second goal of the preseason with 16:09 to play, but he rung the puck off the post.

Lemieux boosted Pittsburgh's lead to 6-1. He one-timed a devastating slapshot past Ouellet with 14:52 remaining off Palffy's assist.

Palffy's wrister increased the Penguins' lead to 7-1 with 11:07 to play. Lemieux and Malone picked up assists on the power-play goal.

"From top to bottom, I thought everyone played hard," Malone said.

The Penguins travel to New Jersey on Wednesday to open the regular season at 7:30 p.m. against the Devils.

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