The Pittsburgh Penguins bid adieu to their 10-game losing streak Wednesday night – with an exclamation point.
Sidney Crosby recorded his first four-point effort and Mark Recchi and John LeClair both had two goals to lead the Penguins to an 8-1 win over the Washington Capitals at Mellon Arena.
“It’s nice to get a reward. I think our team lately has been playing pretty hard and we weren’t getting rewarded,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “[Wednesday] night, there were a lot of guys who had great games. It was a great team effort. We were able to score some goals. We were able to kill some penalties.”
The Penguins (12-29-9) killed off 11 of 12 Washington power-play chances and tallied three power-play goals in the contest.
“Our defense played pretty well considering we killed 11 power plays. That’s a good accomplishment,” Therrien said. “That power play really clicked. Certainly, the power play gave us momentum through the game. The chemistry seems to be there right now. They scored some really nice goals tonight.”
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped Washington’s Jeff Friesen on a breakaway with 5:42 left in the period. He played strong all night as he turned away 29 of 30 shots.
“Marc-Andre made some key saves,” Therrien said. “I am satisfied with the effort out of our team.”
LeClair got the Penguins on the scoreboard with 3:05 left in the first period. He tapped Michel Ouellet’s pass between Olaf Kolzig’s legs and into the net for a power-play goal. Ryan Whitney also assisted on the goal.
It was LeClair’s first goal since Jan. 6 at Atlanta and Whitney’s first assist since Jan. 2 in Toronto.
Alexander Ovechkin ripped a power-play goal past Fleury 5:22 into the second period.
However, the Penguins responded with seven-straight goals.
Recchi redirected Crosby’s pass into the net 3:11 later for a power-play goal. Crosby received Sergei Gonchar’s pass on the far point. He zipped a diagonal pass to Recchi, who was streaking down the left side. He tapped Crosby’s pass just inside the post.
Recchi struck again with 4:41 left on the clock. He one-timed Crosby’s pass into the net for a power-play goal. Gonchar assisted on the play as well. Crosby took Gonchar’s pass around the top of the near circle and slid a pass to Recchi along the far boards. He ripped the puck past Kolzig for a 3-1 lead.
Ovechkin caught a stick to the knee area at the end of the second period. He remained on his back on the ice for several minutes before a couple teammates helped him skate to the locker room.
LeClair scored his second goal of the contest 1:04 into the third period. He deflected Recchi’s shot from the blue line past Kolzig for a power-play tally. Gonchar had the other assist.
Tomas Surovy made it 5-1 with 10:31 to play. He worked a two-on-one with Colby Armstrong and flipped a pass into the net. Crosby earned the other assist.
Crosby pushed Pittsburgh’s lead to 6-1 with 7:43 to play with his 24th goal of the year. In front of the Washington goal, Crosby was able to kick the puck to his left and slip it past Kolzig. Armstrong and Eric Boguniecki assisted on the play.
Boguniecki scored his first goal in a Penguins uniform 19 seconds later when he deflected LeClair’s shot into the goal.
Ryan Malone capped the Penguins scoring with 4:26 on the clock when he converted on a short-handed penalty shot. He faked to his right, brought the puck to his forehand and roofed it into the net.
The Penguins return to action Thursday when they travel to New York to meet the Islanders at 7 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Ric Jackman, Lyle Odelein and Dick Tarnstrom were the Penguins’ healthy scratches…Jamie Heward, Andrew Cassels and Ben Clymer were the Capitals’ healthy scratches…The announced attendance was 14,415…Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in attendance. He sat Mario Lemieux’s private luxury box…Steelers kicker Jeff Reed was spotted in the stands as well.