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Penguins win 13th in a row in Pittsburgh by beating Caps

Jan 15, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT

penscapsgetty Getty Images

It’s probably not fair to say that Sidney Crosby owns his much-hyped rivalry with Alex Ovechkin. Wednesday’s Rivalry Night game made a strong argument that Crosby’s team is clearly streets ahead, though.

The Pittsburgh Penguins fought back from a third-period deficit to beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 in an exciting contest on NBCSN tonight, generating quite the list of accomplishments against their opponents and the league in general:

  • The Penguins set a franchise record with their 13th consecutive win at home.
  • They’ve now beaten the Capitals six times in a row stretching back to 2011-12.
  • As of this writing, their lead in the Metropolitan Division is 18 points and they also hold a 10-point lead over the Eastern Conference overall.

It all sounds easy, but tonight’s contest was exciting and largely in doubt.

Pittsburgh generated a 17-10 shot advantage in the first period, yet Washington carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. The Penguins tied it up 2-2 through the second period. Ovechkin seemed to score a big one 4-on-4 when he found the net for a league-leading 34th goal, but Jussi Jokinen tied it up 3-3 and then Olli Maatta capitalized on Evgeni Malkin‘s setup to win it with a little less than two minutes left.

The Penguins have now won two in a row, five of six and seven of nine games, only failing to gain a standings point in one game during that span (7-1-1). The Capitals have lost three in a row and seven of their last nine as they continue to search for answers in net and elsewhere.

The two teams didn’t seem like they were that starkly separated on the ice, yet tonight’s game shows how thin the line between success and failure really can be in the NHL.

  1. lowenni - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    Disappointing loss for the Caps, thought we had this one. Pittsburgh definitely outplayed us at times but we grabbed kept grabbing the lead, and then ultimately gave it up which was infuriating. I like the core of the Caps team but I question their effort and dedication a lot. They have no excuse for giving up a 1-goal lead three times. Pens are a great team, but if we really made a commitment to keeping that lead we could’ve had it. I think we need some veteran leadership pieces on this team, swap em out for players like Brouwer.

    • lowenni - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:01 PM

      Also, the two youngsters Maataa and Orlov both had great games. Maataa made some great passes while Orlov showed off just some sick hands and moves. Really excited to see what those two players are gonna do in the future.

      • jaybaileys - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        Maatta definitely still makes mistakes but the dude is only 19, ton of upside.

    • c9castine - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:39 AM

      i thought that was one of the better games I’ve seen the caps play against us for a while. pens carried the play for good parts but so did they.

      ovechkin disappeared for like 20 minutes of play and i kept thinking to myself “he’s gonna show up eventually and the puck will be in the back of the net. “. thats what happened.

      kunitz play on our first goal was why he is going to sochi. we were pinned and he’d ha enough and just turned out of the corner burned 3 caps forwards and took the play to the other net.

  2. jaybaileys - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Not sure how the Pens keep winning, Sutter was on the 1st line, Pyatt on the 2nd and he actually was a factor. Thought Washington outplayed the Pens for much of the game, Pens just somehow managed to keep it close. Fleury also was better than his counterpart. Id like to see how they play when some of the forwards get healthy.

    • dirt2013 - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      That should be if they get healthy. Bennett will not be back until After the Olympics.Duper is done for the year.Even the AHL replacements are hurt. Neal in and out of the lineup.It seems like it will not end this year.

    • jdlinder11 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      It seemed like every time the pens 3rd or 4th lines were out on the ice, the caps got 1+ minutes of sustained offensive zone pressure. They are seriously hurting for some help at forward, hopefully the surplus of defense men can help straighten that out.

  3. pitpenguinsrulez - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    Boy someone sure can’t spell Maatta when it’s clearly listed in the article. Overall an exciting game to watch. I really liked how the one trick pony Ovechkin breaks his stick at the end and instead of staying in the Pens zone he skates back to the bench to get a stick. Maatta tho is a stud and could possibly be the next Kimmo Timonen…if not better. Finally I think having Wiz Khalifas boy, DJ Bonics, control the music was definitely refreshing and gave the crowd a better feel and sound.

    • lowenni - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      Calm down bud…I’m not a Pens fan and I spelled it Maataa instead of Maatta…not a big deal.

      Also, if we’re on spelling errors, spell out the word “though”, don’t just write “tho”…otherwise you just sound hypocritical.

    • c9castine - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:42 AM

      wait. i hate to defend ovechkin but why in the world would he stay in the offensive zone down a goal with 25 seconds to play and no stick? whats he gonna kick it in?

  4. hazlydose - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    Crosby played an excellent game. Most people will say he only had one point, but he was shutting down Ovi’s line all night and forced Oates to move Ovi around to try to get him away from Sid.

    Pyatt played excellent. He had a goal and the screen on Maata’s GWG. He should get a shot on the second line with Malkin and Neal. His board work and puck retrieval were excellent. I can’t remember a recent game where Malkin’s line had that much offensive zone time. It would also let Jokinen to slide down with Sutter. Juice hasn’t looked great of late and a change of line mates could help him out.

    MAF played great and held it down when we were trapped in our zone for extended periods of time. Not the best game by the pens, sloppy at times, but they did enough to win.

    • c9castine - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:47 AM

      totally agree about crosby. there was really no other choice. thats why sutter was moved onto that line. sutter couldn’t do it by himself with ahl players, so they moved him up with sid and kunitz. made for a dangerous shutdown line and they made ovechkin disappear for a good part of the game.

      pyatt great first game i can see he was more than just “not a liability”. skated well, was quick to pucks and controlled it well, made plays and most importantly playing with malkin and jussi kept his stick on the ice. i totally disagree about jokinen though. he’s been our most consistent forward this year not wearing 87…hes been very productive lately and has been a little grittier but still as elusive as ever.

      and agreed.

  5. d111981 - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    Caps played a good game tonight against a great team and almost pulled of an upset. There is no doubt the Penguins are the team to beat in the eastern conference. The Caps have to figure out their goaltending situation and stop allowing opponents to score immediately after they light the lamp. This has been plaguing them all season and is extremely deflating.

    • dropthepuckeh - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:28 AM

      Well at least you will have home ice advantage to witness the post-season meltdown…

  6. cspsrbums - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:34 AM

    100%with you 14 games the have giving a goal within 2:30 after scoring they need to learn how to finish teams off. It was just playoffs series we didn’t finish now it’s games time to move some of the players that have been here during all this. They are the problems Laich,Green,Brouwer Warrd these are just some of the guys who don’t know how to finish. Just start moving a few or they won’t make the playoffs. 7-8 on the road all of March games are against playoff teams. Need to start the moves now.

    • kantnockdahustle89 - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:47 AM

      Ward is the 2nd leading goal scorer on the team. What are you talking about “cant finish?” There are plenty of other players who arent carrying their weight. Its mostly Brouwer and Laich.

      • jpelle82 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:20 AM

        the goal disparity is staggering with the caps. the fact that ward is 2nd on the team is pretty telling but they showed last night that grabovski is in 3rd on the team and 3 of his 12 came in his first game of the season. caps need a another top 6 winger who can shoot the puck…badly.

  7. JoeAvg - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    Never thought I’d be glad to hear Atlantic Division again James, but it sure beats Metropolitan.


    You don’t write for a living, do you? If so I suggest you look for the nearest soup kitchen because you’re going to go hungry.

  8. President Charles Logan - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:03 AM

    Pens have alot of depth , the only thing that may be an issue with them is if they put it in cruise control for the 2nd half after the Olympic break…. and then come out flat in the Playoffs…. again.

  9. toiletclown - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:21 AM

    and the wins keep coming.

  10. penguins87and71 - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:04 AM

    Big grind it out win win from the Penguins last night. They looked kind of tired from the Western Canada road trip.

    • jpelle82 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      i dont know, they had 4 days to rest. i thought they just looked like a team with patchwork lines and a bunch of starry eyed ahl players

  11. kantnockdahustle89 - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:52 AM

    Great game last night. Both teams played pretty evenly. I think the Pens got the better goaltending on the night which ultimately helped them win.

    Malkin was pretty much invisible the first 2 periods until Ovechkin hit him with the stick then he turned into an angry man. Is this normal for him to just care just when he wants? Gotta be frustrating at times.

    I think the Caps desperately need a 5/6 dman. Their choices of Hillen, Carrick, Erskine and Olesky are weak. Maybe swing one of their 3 goalies for a vet dman?

    • jaybaileys - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:12 AM

      Yea I don’t see the Caps much but why is Green still on their team, every time I see him he six. Love 74 though the guy has always played good when the Pens are in town.

  12. jaybaileys - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    frickin autocorrect sorry he sucks!

  13. whiskytango333 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    Trade Letang!

    • toiletclown - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      yea trade that bum

  14. cspsrbums - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    I agree Ward has played well and he is a stretch to move. What I mean by finish is Caps don’t finish games off by getting the extra goal or two while they have the lead.
    Like the pass playoffs, they haven’t finished the series off when up 3-1 or 3-2 . The players that have been here for those playoff collapses are the ones who can’t finish the games off, so move them, it’s in their heads now and not coming back while with this group.

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