WASHINGTON — Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust scored and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended hot streaks by Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals with a 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
The third meeting this season between these longtime rivals featured tight checking, strong goaltending and more than a few punches. Rust broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period with his sixth goal in five games, and the Penguins held on against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Playing in his second game since returning from a lower body injury, Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray stopped 31 shots.
Lars Eller scored the lone goal for the Capitals. They had won five in a row.
Ovechkin was held without a goal for the first time in seven games and had his career-high run of games with a point end at 14.
In addition, Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov had his streak of eight straight games with an assist come to an end, one shy of the franchise record.
Eller put the Capitals up 1-0 at 6:38 of the second period, pushing the puck past Murray after taking a lead pass from Tom Wilson.
Crosby tied it less than three minutes later, deflecting a pass from Evgeni Malkin into the right side of the net with Pittsburgh on the power play.
Rust made it 2-1 with just over a minute left in the period, hacking away at the puck in front of the net before it finally popped past goalie Braden Holtby.
In the third period, Holtby snagged a shot by Malkin on a breakaway to keep Washington within striking distance.
Twice over the final 20 minutes, Kuznetsov took shots that slipped through Murray’s legs, only to be swatted away by Pittsburgh defencemen an inch before sliding past the goal line.
These teams just don’t care for each other, and it shows whether they’re meeting in December or the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Less than a minute into the game, Wilson and Pittsburgh defenceman Jamie Oleksiak shed their gloves and got into a fight. Oleksiak was helped off the ice with a cut on his cheek, and both players received five-minute penalties. Oleksiak did not return.
Four minutes later, Ovechkin and Kris Letang traded blows behind the Pittsburgh net before being sent to the penalty box for roughing.
The scoreless first period featured more penalty minutes (18) than shots on goal (17).
NOTES: The Capitals’ run of 14 straight games with at least three goals ended. … Crosby took over the team lead in points with 38. Crosby, Phil Kessell and Malkin all entered with 36. … All three games between the teams have been decided by one goal. Pittsburgh has won two of them. … It was the Capitals’ third loss in 15 games since Nov. 14.
Penguins: Host Minnesota on Thursday night.
Capitals: Host Buffalo on Friday night, a rematch of Saturday’s game won by Washington in overtime.
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David Ginsburg, The Associated Press