Pens seek fifth straight victory in battle with Caps
(Sports Network) - The streaking Pittsburgh Penguins have more victories in a week than the Washington Capitals have been able to post all season.
The Pens try to push their winning streak to five straight on Thursday evening as they battle the struggling Capitals for the second time in five days.
Pittsburgh hasn't lost since a 4-1 defeat versus the New York Islanders on Jan. 29. It began its current run last Thursday with a shutout victory over the New York Rangers before besting the New Jersey Devils and Capitals on consecutive days over the weekend.
The Pens stayed in the win column Tuesday by notching a 4-2 win over the Islanders.
Brandon Sutter, Pascal Dupuis, James Neal and Simon Despres all scored goals as the Penguins held on despite nearly blowing a 3-0 lead after allowing the Isles to score two goals just 39 seconds apart early in the third.
"We did a pretty good job," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. "When we had to kind of shut things down, we made some big blocks, big kills."
Crosby had an assist and logged 16 minutes of ice time despite taking a puck to the face in the second period, briefly knocking him out of the game.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 stops for the victory.
Crosby had three assists in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals, a game Chris Kunitz highlighted with four goals. He actually left D.C. with a hat trick before the NHL made a scoring change on Monday and credited him with another goal.
The Pens have won three of their last four versus the Capitals, but last season's home win on Jan. 22 snapped an eight-game home slide against Washington.
The Caps would love to get rolling in the Steel City as they sit a disappointing 2-7-1 on the season. They have lost four of their past five, suffering a second straight defeat on Tuesday with a 3-2 decision against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Marcus Johansson and Mike Ribeiro lit the lamp for the Capitals, while Michal Neuvirth made 18 saves in defeat. Nicklas Backstrom had an assist, giving him a goal and five helpers over a five-game point streak.
"We have got to find a way to win. That's all that matters. How we do it doesn't really matter," said Johansson, whose club is 0-3-1 on the road this season.
Getting more goals would help. The Caps have yet to score more than three goals in any of their 10 games this season, giving them their longest streak of scoring three or fewer since a 12-game span from Dec. 23, 2010-Jan. 20, 2011.
Ribeiro had a goal and an assist in the earlier loss to the Penguins, while Braden Holtby yielded all six goals on 26 shots.