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Pens thump Caps for third straight win
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Chris Kunitz recorded the third hat trick of his career as the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Matt Cooke and Kris Letang each had a goal and an assist while Sidney Crosby added three assists for the Penguins, who have scored 14 goals in winning their last three games. Tomas Vokoun made 21 saves in the win.
"They're a great team so we always have to be alert," said Crosby. "They had a lot of chances and we had to play good defense. But that's the way they play, they're a good offensive team and they're going to get their chances."
Mike Ribeiro had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who were coming off a 3-2 win over Philadelphia on Friday night. Mike Green and John Carlson also scored, while Braden Holtby gave up all six goals on 26 shots.
"The pucks that we were able to get on net weren't really good chances and they were able to cover the rebounds," said Green. "For the most part it was one-and-done for us every time we got the puck into the zone."
The Penguins struck just 3:37 into the game when a right circle faceoff win by Crosby saw the puck come back to the point and Paul Martin's wrist shot hit off a Capital player before going in.
Washington tied the game 1:28 later on Green's second goal of the season. Ribeiro held the puck along the right boards and sent it over to the circle for Wojtek Wolski, who quickly dished a backhand to the slot where a wide open Green one-timed it home.
Pittsburgh got the lead back at the 8:20 mark of the opening frame. A hard pass from the right point by Robert Bortuzzo went over to the left where Dave Engelland one-timed it on net and Cooke was able to get a stick on the puck for his first goal of the season.
Washington caught a lucky break to tie the game in the second period. Carlson went for the dump in from the neutral zone down the right side and Vokoun skated behind the net to play the puck. However, the disc took a bounce off a stanchion and slid into the open net at the 4:03 mark of the frame.
The rest of the frame, though, belonged to the Penguins.
Less than three minutes later, Pittsburgh took the lead back when Brandon Sutter sent a pass from the right circle to the left where Letang out-waited a sliding defender before firing the puck under the left arm of Holtby.
Moments later, it was a 4-2 game when Crosby left a drop pass at the left circle and from the top Kunitz one-timed it home.
Kunitz scored on the power play at the 13:59 mark of the frame when Evgeni Malkin sent a pass from the right circle over to the left where he one-timed it home for a 5-2 advantage.
The Caps made it a two-goal game 3:33 into the third when Ribeiro stuffed home the puck from in front off a flubbed shot by Troy Brouwer for a power-play goal.
Washington had a chance to make it a one-goal game when Bortuzzo was whistled for high-sticking with 6:12 to play, but the team was held off the board and Kunitz was able to cap the hat trick with 7.2 seconds to play on a one-timer from the left circle while on the power play.
Pittsburgh had scored 16 goals in its first six games prior to the three-game winning streak ... Kunitz's last hat trick came on Jan. 5, 2011 against Tampa Bay ... Washington defenseman John Erksine served the first game of his three- game suspension stemming from an elbow to the head of Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds during Friday's game ... Pittsburgh plays in New York against the Islanders on Tuesday ... Washington hosts Toronto on Tuesday ... Each team won twice in the series last season ... Pittsburgh was 2-for-3 on the power play while Washington was 1-for-4.
02/03 17:57:15 ET