WASHINGTON -- Chris Kunitz scored a hat trick in the Pittsburgh Penguins' SuperBowl Sunday visit to the nation's capital, leading a 6-3 win over theWashington Capitals that reflected both teams' fortunes so far in thelockout-shortened season.
Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Matt Cookealso scored, Sidney Crosby had three assists, and Tomas Vokoun made 21saves against his former team for the Penguins, who have won threestraight and four of five to lead the Atlantic Division.
MikeGreen, John Carlson and Mike Ribeiro scored for the Capitals - andCarlson's goal was an accident that took a weird carom off a stanchionalong the glass. Two-time league MVP Alex Ovechkin, who said before thegame that he was somewhat embarrassed to have only three points on theseason, contributed a secondary assist on a third-period power-play goalwith Washington trailing by three.
Washington has lost seven ofnine games to start the season. Hosting the Penguins as a Super Bowlwarm-up for the third straight year, the Capitals no longer look likethe formidable team that beat Pittsburgh 5-4 in overtime with a hattrick 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.
Undernew coach Adam Oates, the Capitals are feeling their way around theice, especially on defense. Braden Holtby stopped only 20 of 26 shots,allowing Letang and Kunitz to beat him glove side 37 seconds apart inthe second period to give the Penguins a 4-2 lead.
Vokoun, whoshut out the New York Rangers on Thursday, made a successful return tothe Verizon Center. He was signed to be the Capitals' No. 1 goalie lastseason but hurt his groin and was eclipsed by Holtby during theplayoffs, prompting Washington to trade him to Pittsburgh.
Martinscored from the point after Crosby won a faceoff in the Capitals' zoneto give the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the first period. Washington tied itless than two minutes later after a nice sequence in which Ribeiro wonthe puck along the boards and passed it to Wojtek Wolski, who then sentit along to a wide-open Green.
After Cooke made it 2-1, Carlsontied it on a bizarre goal in the second period. The Capitals defensemanwas merely trying to dump the puck along the boards, but it rose up andtook an odd deflection. Vokoun had already started to retreat behind thenet to intercept the puck and tripped trying to change direction to getback to the crease.