Sidney Crosby (USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES)
WASHINGTON -- Chris Kunitz scored a hat trick in the Pittsburgh Penguins' Super
Bowl Sunday visit to the nation's capital, leading a 6-3 win over the
Washington Capitals that reflected both teams' fortunes so far in the
Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Matt Cooke
also scored, Sidney Crosby had three assists, and Tomas Vokoun made 21
saves against his former team for the Penguins, who have won three
straight and four of five to lead the Atlantic Division.
Green, John Carlson and Mike Ribeiro scored for the Capitals - and
Carlson's goal was an accident that took a weird carom off a stanchion
along the glass. Two-time league MVP Alex Ovechkin, who said before the
game that he was somewhat embarrassed to have only three points on the
season, contributed a secondary assist on a third-period power-play goal
with Washington trailing by three.
Washington has lost seven of
nine games to start the season. Hosting the Penguins as a Super Bowl
warm-up for the third straight year, the Capitals no longer look like
the formidable team that beat Pittsburgh 5-4 in overtime with a hat
trick from Ovechkin in 2010 and shut out the Penguins 3-0 a year ago -
both feisty games that included punches thrown by Ovechkin.
Ovechkin was overly physical in this game as well, getting a roughing call in the final two minutes.
new coach Adam Oates, the Capitals are feeling their way around the
ice, especially on defense. Braden Holtby stopped only 20 of 26 shots,
allowing Letang and Kunitz to beat him glove side 37 seconds apart in
the second period to give the Penguins a 4-2 lead.
shut out the New York Rangers on Thursday, made a successful return to
the Verizon Center. He was signed to be the Capitals' No. 1 goalie last
season but hurt his groin and was eclipsed by Holtby during the
playoffs, prompting Washington to trade him to Pittsburgh.
scored from the point after Crosby won a faceoff in the Capitals' zone
to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the first period. Washington tied it
less than two minutes later after a nice sequence in which Ribeiro won
the puck along the boards and passed it to Wojtek Wolski, who then sent
it along to a wide-open Green.
After Cooke made it 2-1, Carlson
tied it on a bizarre goal in the second period. The Capitals defenseman
was merely trying to dump the puck along the boards, but it rose up and
took an odd deflection. Vokoun had already started to retreat behind the
net to intercept the puck and tripped trying to change direction to get
back to the crease.