Penguins beat Capitals, win 10th in a row
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Matt Niskanen netted the winning goal in the third period, as the Pittsburgh Penguins won their 10th straight game with a 2-1 decision over Washington at CONSOL Energy Center.
Paul Martin also scored, Sidney Crosby assisted on both tallies and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots for the Penguins, who continued their perfect March slate despite the absences of Evgeni Malkin (concussion) and Kris Letang (lower-body injury).
"It's obviously an important time in the game and I thought the penalty kill did an amazing job of stepping up to the challenge," Niskanen said. "We created a lot of energy and momentum from that. You could feel the crowd getting into it and we were able to go on a rush there and finish."
Pittsburgh swept all three meetings from Washington this season and has won five of the last six matchups overall. The Penguins also became the first team in NHL history to win at least 10 games in a row for three consecutive seasons.
Alex Ovechkin lit the lamp for the Capitals, who have dropped five of their last seven. Braden Holtby made 34 saves in the loss.
Niskanen's bullet from between the circles on an odd-man rush gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead with 8:02 left in regulation.
Just prior to the deciding goal, the Penguins killed off boarding and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to Matt Cooke, the last of which expired only nine seconds prior to the go-ahead score.
"That power play was going to be the game," Washington forward Eric Fehr said. "I think everybody knew it."
Cooke was the middle man in the scoring play, as Crosby carried the puck into the Washington zone before dishing to his teammate on the left wing. The 26- year-old blueliner pumped home his fourth goal of the season and first since Feb. 22.
A last-minute excursion with an extra attacker proved fruitless for the Capitals.
"The importance is probably greater just because of a shortened season," Crosby said. "I think the good thing for us is that we're playing so many games and I don't think anyone's thinking a whole lot about it. We're just going out there and playing the way we need to."
Ovechkin snapped a scoreless deadlock with 8:14 played in the second, as he one-timed a rolling puck off the near post and in from the left circle for a power-play marker.
Martin's point blast at the tail end of the following Pittsburgh advantage hit the back of the net for a 1-1 game at 11:07.
The Penguins have allowed only three goals in their last four wins, and have given up just 23 scores for the duration of their winning streak ... This 10- game run by Pittsburgh matches a similar streak undertaken from Jan. 28-Feb. 15, 1999 ... Washington welcomed center Brooks Laich to the lineup for the first time all season, having been injured in Switzerland during the lockout.
03/20 01:42:37 ET