The Pittsburgh Penguins won their 10th straight game Tuesday in a 2-1 affair against the Washington Capitals. Matt Niskanen scored midway through the third period to secure the win for the Penguins.
The Penguins have jumped to the top of the Eastern Conference during their 10-game winning streak, three points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens. Undefeated this March, the win over the Capitals was the Penguins eighth in a row at home.
Alex Ovechkin opened up the scoring just over eight minutes into the second period with a powerplay goal, assisted by Troy Brouwer and Mike Ribeiro. Paul Martin scored for the Penguins less than three minutes later, tying the game at one going into the final period.
The Capitals were coming off a powerplay when Niskanen picked off a pass midway through the third , leading to a 3-on-2 rush for the Penguins. Sidney Crosby and Matt Cooke found Niskanen four his fourth goal of the season.
Crosby finished the game with 2 assists while Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves on 29 shots for his 16th win of the shortened season. Last season’s MVP, Evgeni Malkin, didn’t play against the Capitals, missing his sixth straight game due to a shoulder injury. Defenseman Kris Letang also missed the game with an upper-body injury.
It didn’t phase the hottest team in the NHL, as the Penguins went on to beat their bitter rivals 2-1 in the nation’s capitol. The Capitals were expected to win the Southeast Division in 2013 but haven’t even played well enough for a playoff spot, falling to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
The Capitals are just three points ahead of the Florida Panthers, who sport the worst record in the NHL. The difference is that the Panthers are a young team with prospects looking to grow, while the Capitals’ talent was supposed to be enough to make a run at the Stanley Cup. It hasn’t worked out, and the Capitals’ season is all but over.
The Penguins are playing their best hockey, and take on the New York Islanders Friday. Evgeni Malkin is expected to be back in the lineup after practicing with the team Tuesday. With Malkin’s return, the Penguins are sure to put more pressure on teams and already lead the league in team scoring. The Penguins won 2-1 Tuesday and continue cruising through the Eastern Conference, but have their eyes set on the big picture, a chance to win it all in the Stanley Cup playoffs.