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PENGUINS REMAIN HOT WITH 3-2 VICTORY OVER CAPITALS

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

It was a sweet 16 for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday at Mellon Arena.

With a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals, the Penguins remained one of the NHL's hottest teams. Pittsburgh (33-17-9) has earned at least one point in its last 16 games (14-0-2).

The spree is the second-longest in franchise history. They had an 18-game points streak (17-0-1) to close the 1992-93 season.

Jocelyn Thibault was strong in goal for the Penguins as he earned the start. He stopped 29 of 31 shots to earn the victory.

"It was a big win. We played a solid defensive game. We had gotten away from it the past couple games, but it was a solid defensive game for us," he said. "I am always happy to play. It was nice to get a win at home against a good team. It does a lot for my confidence. It's good to participate in the winning streak. It's good to do your share."

Mark Recchi got the Penguins on the scoreboard 5:59 into the game. He deflected Sergei Gonchar's slap-shot from the point past Brent Johnson for a power-play goal. Sidney Crosby added an assist on the play.

Richard Zednik deflected a shot past Jocelyn Thibault with 12:56 left in the first period to even the score at 1-all.

Evgeni Malkin gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead with 1:16 left in the second period. Along the far boards near the goal line, he one-timed Gonchar's pass into the top of the net. Michel Ouellet added an assist on the play.

Malkin now has points in 14-straight home games - a Penguins rookie record.

Max Talbot made it a 3-1 game 1:10 into the third period when he one-timed Colby Armstrong's pass from the far face-off circle past Johnson.

Alexander Semin had a chance to cut Washington's deficit to 3-2 with 5:56 remaining when he was awarded his penalty shot. However, he flipped the puck off the crossbar and it fell harmlessly to the ice.

"I got lucky. I was nowhere near that puck," Thibault said with a smile. "It just felt like he had me. I knew he was a very skilled player and I knew he was going to use a good move. I am usually pretty good at poke checking players when they try to come across and I totally missed him. I don't know if I surprised him by trying to poke him. I was so happy it didn't go it. I heard the post and I saw the people's reactions. I didn't look, but I knew it wasn't in."

Semin did find the back of the net with 44 second to play. From a scrum in front of the Penguins' goal, Semin pushed the puck under Thibault's leg.

However, the Penguins held on for the victory.

ICE CHIPS: Chris Thorburn and Alain Nasreddine were the Penguins' scratches...Kris Beech, Ben Clymer and Steve Eminger were the Capitals' scratches...The announced attendance was a standing room-only 17,132...Evgeni Malkin (No. 1), Sergei Gonchar (No. 2) and Alexander Semin (No. 3) were the game's three stars.

 

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