Ziggy Palffy scored two goals Tuesday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins held on for a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals at Mellon Arena.
Palffy scored the Penguins’ first goal, but it was his second goal that made the most impact. Sidney Crosby fired a backhanded cross-ice pass to Palffy on the far post and he flipped it into the net.
It gave the Penguins a 5-2 edge with 6:30 to play in the second period and may not have seemed very important at the time, but it turned out to be huge for Pittsburgh. Not only did it give the Penguins a bigger cushion, but it halted Washington’s momentum – the Capitals scored two goals 14 seconds apart early in the period.
“We needed to get that next one. I think it was 4-2 at that point. We definitely wanted to change momentum there,” Crosby said. “We got a chance and we took advantage of it. We have to continue to do that. We need to make sure we don’t lose momentum, but if we do, we need to make some plays to get it back.”
Washington (8-13-0) scored twice in the third, but could not overcome the Penguins (7-9-6).
Matt Pettinger scored a goal 4:46 into the third period to slice Washington’s deficit to 5-3.
Brian Willsie added a shorthanded goal at 6:29 to make it 5-4.
“Absolutely, it was a little too exciting,” Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk said.” We knew they’d fight back. We’ve been in situations where we were down by four, too. To get that fifth goal was huge. That was a big goal.”
Ric Jackman, Lasse Pirjeta, Palffy and Crosby all scored goals in a first-period outburst to give the Penguins a 4-0 edge at the intermission.
Palffy redirected Sergei Gonchar’s pass into the net for a power-play goal 5:08 into the game. Jackman earned the other assist.
Jackman boosted the Penguins’ lead to 2-0 when his passing attempt to John LeClair deflected off a Washington defenseman and slid into the net past goaltender Olaf Kolzig at 8:02. LeClair and Pirjeta earned assists.
Crosby came through with a highlight-reel goal. He broke through the Washington zone alone, deked left, brought the puck right and flipped it into the net with 8:07 remaining in the period. Palffy and Josef Melichar earned assists. It was Crosby’s 11th goal of the season.
Pirjeta ripped a slap-shot past Kolzig at 14:46. Ryan Whitney earned the assist.
The Capitals came back with a pair of second-period goals 14 seconds apart.
Chris Clark got the Capitals on the scoreboard when he flipped his own rebound past Sebastien Caron 5:31 into the second period.
Brooks Laich made it 4-2 just 14 seconds later. Caron attempted to clear the puck around the boards, but Laich intercepted it at the half-boards and fired a shot into an empty net as Caron scrambled to his crease.
“That happens a lot when you get big starts like that. It wasn’t like we didn’t have our chances, though,” Crosby said. “I thought that Kolzig made some big saves as the game went on. The chances were there. It wasn’t for lack of work or sitting back. I guess there were a few lapses of a few minutes where we were back on our heels. For the most part, I thought we kept coming.”
Washington threatened to score again halfway through the period on a two-man advantage, but the Penguins were able to kill both penalties.
Then, Palffy made it 5-2 with his second goal of the game. Erik Christensen and Crosby got the assists.
Caron stopped 41 of 45 Washington shots, while Kolzig blocked 23 of 28 Pittsburgh shots.
ICE CHIPS: Shane Endicott, Lyle Odelein and Ryan VandenBussche were the Penguins’ healthy scratches…Dainius Zubrus, Mathieu Biron and Nolan Yonkman were the Capitals’ healthy scratches…A standing room-only crowd of 16,978 attended the game.