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First Place No More, Three Capitals 3rd Period Goals Beat Penguins 5-3

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Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby Washington Capitals Tom Wilson

The Pittsburgh Penguins couldn’t close the deal. With first place in the Metro Division on the line, the Penguins scored a pair of second period goals in 26 seconds apart but Washington scored four third period goals, including the empty netter by Carl Hagelin and Washington vaulted into a first place with a 5-3 win over the Penguins at Capital One Arena on Sunday afternoon.

The Penguins have lost three in a row. They had a 2-1 lead after two periods and generally had the best of play, but Washington scored a pair of goals early in the third period.

“I thought we played real well,” head coach Mike Sullivan said with emphasis. “It was one of our better games in a while. We had some really good moments in the game.

One minute into the period, Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Washington forward Tom Wilson, who often impacts these rivalry games in other ways, had a clean breakaway. It was a rough day for Pettersson.

Wilson (20) deked Murray to the backhand to tie the game, 2-2.

A few minutes later, the Penguins couldn’t clear the zone and former Penguins forward Carl Hagelin (6) poked a rebound past Murray for the go-ahead goal.

The Penguins managed to pushback against Washington and midway through the period, Malkin added to his career highlight goals. Malkin (21) raced through the neutral zone at full speed, swept past Washington defenseman Dmitro Orlov, slipped the puck through the legs of defenseman John Carlson before he deked Holtby for the jaw-dropping goal.

However, a Penguins defensive miscue later in the third period spotted Washington their third goal of the third period and the game-winner. As both Penguins defensemen, Jack Johnson and Kris Letang went behind the net to defend, Washington got the puck into the crease. The Penguins couldn’t clear and T.J. Oshie (25) earned the garbage goal.

“We responded really well after (Washington’s first two goals in the third period),” said Patric Hornqvist. “We got the tying goal, and then they scored on the scrum and that was the game for them.”

The Penguins were rude guests for much of the second period. In fact, from seven minutes remaining in the first period through the first half of the second period, the Penguins didn’t allow an even strength shot on goal. Their streak lasted nearly 20 minutes.

Later in the second period, the Penguins finally cracked the scoreboard. Kris Letang’s point shot was blocked near the crease, and Patric Hornqvist narrowly beat Washington goalie Braden Holtby to the puck. Hornqvist (16) whacked the puck over Holtby’s outstretched glove to tie the game 1-1.

Just 26 seconds later, the Penguins earned a little revenge for a fluky first-period goal. Sidney Crosby worked the give-and-go Jason Zucker at the top of the offensive zone. Holtby stopped Crosby’s backhand chip but Washington forward T.J. Oshie slid into the net with the puck. The Penguins had a 2-1 lead.

Overall, the Pittsburgh Penguins only mustered 10 shots in the second period and won the shot clock battle 10-5.

In the fast-paced, back and forth first period, the Penguins lack of pressure on the faceoff dot cost them again. The Penguins gave up a trio of goals on Thursday night against Toronto. Sunday, Jakub Vrana (24) snared a 50/50 puck and blew past Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson at center ice for a breakaway goal.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray made the initial save, but the rebound landed on Pettersson who dove in a futile attempt to disrupt the breakaway. Pettersson slid hard into the net with the puck.

“It was kind of a broken play at first. I thought it was going to come out from the faceoff circle a little harder,” Pettersson said. “I didn’t know if I was going to play it or back off. I was caught in the middle.”

At the end of the first period, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Washington defenseman Brenden Dillon earned double minors for a stream of haymakers. Dillon had his gloves off for most of the exchange, while Malkin kept his mitts for most of it, before dropping his gloves at the end.

Hagelin (7) scored the empty-net goal.

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray was otherwise good and stopped 18 of 22 shots. Holtby was equally good in the rivalry game. Holtby stopped 33 of 36 shots.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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