Alexander Ovechkin scored twice and the Eastern Conference leading Washington Capitals, defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 on Tuesday night to complete a season sweep of the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Pittsburgh which is a combined 0-10 against the Capitals and New Jersey Devils this season, have allowed 21 goals in four games against Washington this season. The loss was costly for Pittsburgh who are now two points behind the New Jersey Devils for first place in the Atlantic division.
Captain Sidney Crosby said in his post-game comments that the Penguins did some “good things” but it wasn’t enough once again for Pittsburgh.
Washington capitalized off of poor goaltending from Penguins netminder Marc Andre Fleury and a few mistakes defensively by Pittsburgh.
Washington struck first at the 13 minute mark in the first period when Alexander Semin beat a flat footed Alex Goligoski in the neutral zone that led to Semin having a clear angle to the net and beating Marc Andre Fleury glove side to make it 1-0. Semin showed great patience in putting the puck upstairs to record his 39th goal of the season as Fleury appeared fooled on the shot.
The Capitals struck early in the second period as Mike Knuble beat Marc Andre Fleury with a harmless wrist shot from the right circle to make it 2-0, just 42 seconds into the period.
It was Knubles fourth goal against Pittsburgh in as many games. Fleury said afterwards that it’s a save he has to make.
The Penguins power play would get them on the board minutes later as Sidney Crosby found a free lane and blistered a wrist shot just above the right circle past Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov at the 6:21 mark.
It was Crosby’s league leading 48th goal of the season at the time but Crosby’s goal was short lived as Tomas Fleischmann scored 21 seconds later, beating Marc Andre Fleury with a wrist shot from the high slot to make it 3-1 and halt any momentum that Pittsburgh had.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma had seen enough of Fleury and pulled the Penguins starting netminder following Fleischmann’s goal.
Fleury made 9 saves on 12 shots and when leaving the ice was furious, slamming his stick on the wall while heading to the dressing room.
Jordan Leopold would score twice for the Penguins and made it 4-3 just 49 seconds into the third period but an Alexander Ovechkin power play goal at the 2:37 mark, helped the Capitals regain their two goal advantage.
The Capitals had two goal leads of 2-0, 3-1, 4-2, and 5-3 on the night. Ovechkin added an empty net goal with just 1 second remaining in the game to give the Capitals a 6-3 lead and tie Sidney Crosby for the league lead in goals with 48.
Crosby had a goal and two assists on the night, reaching 100 points on the season.
Crosby has now reached the 100 point plateau in four of five seasons. During a break in action in the third period, the crowd chanted MVP, MVP.
Jordan Leopold’s two goal game was his first multi-goal game since November 2003.
Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves to record the win for Washington. Brett Johnson made 13 saves on 15 shots in relief of Marc Andre Fleury.
Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin was a late scratch after warmups. The Penguins indicate Malkin was ill. Head coach Dan Bylsma said Malkin not playing was a total surprise to him who had no idea prior to the game that Malkin was ill.
Penguins winger Chris Kunitz also missed tonight’s game with a shoulder injury.
The Capitals who didn’t have much to play for, held defenseman Mike Green out of the lineup for precautionary reasons. Green leads all NHL defensemen with 74 points.
Thursday night will mark the final regular season game for the Penguins at Mellon Arena.