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It’s Over! Penguins Finally End Their Slump, 4-1

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pittsburgh penguins, jeff petry, NHL trade talk

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Pittsburgh Penguins knew that Washington’s lineup has been diluted by injuries, that the Capitals were missing some of their most prominent players.

It’s safe to assume the Penguins didn’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about Washington’s problems, though, since they had more than a few of their own.

Like that 0-6-1 streak they dragged into their game at Capital One Arena Tuesday night.

The skid they ended rather emphatically with a 4-1 victory over the Capitals, who are in a 1-3-2 funk of their own.

“Everybody’s a little relieved and happy that we came out tonight and got one,” Brock McGinn said.

The win raised the Penguins’ record to 5-6-2, and was their first since a 6-3 decision in Columbus Oct. 22.

Casey DeSmith, who said he had learned Tuesday that he’d be starting in goal — a move that suggested the coaching staff is not happy with Tristan Jarry’s play of late — turned aside 24 of 25 shots, and seemed to be heading for a shutout until the Capitals scored with less than eight minutes remaining.

“No disappointment,” DeSmith said. “Obviously, if any goal goes in, I wish I’d had it, but if it was 4-3, I’d be just as happy.”

The only major negative for the Penguins was that defensemen Jan Rutta and P.O Joseph left the game during the second period and did not return. There was no immediate word on the nature or severity of either of their injuries, although Rutta might have been shaken up by a hit he absorbed from Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin.

Their depatures put a lot of stress on the four who remained — Kris Letang, Marcus Pettersson, Brian Dumoulin and Jeff Petry — although Pettersson pointed out that not everything about the situation was negative.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said, smiling. “You get to play a lot.”

The Penguins actually were down to three defensemen for a few shifts during the third, after Petry appeared to injure his left knee and made a brief visit to the locker room. While he was gone, Jeff Carter took a shift on right defense, opposite Dumoulin.

After the game, Petry had a large bag of ice strapped to his knee.

The Capitals, meanwhile, played the entire game without the likes of Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie and Carl Hagelin, among others.

Although the Penguins had a sluggish start in the opening period — Washington recorded the first five shots on goal — they found their legs after the first half of it and had an edge in play for most of the balance of the period.

DeSmith preserved the 0-0 tie on the Capitals’ fifth shot, as he denied Dylan Strome on a tricky deflection of a Matt Irwin shot. Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper countered with a quality stop on a Rickard Rakell shot from the slot at 14:37.

Referees Francis Charron and Graham Skilliter overlooked some apparent infractions by both teams throughout the period, but sent Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov to the box at 18:52, after he likely prevented a goal by hooking Sidney Crosby in front of the Washington net.

The Penguins’ momentum carried over into — and accelerated during — the second period, when they built a 3-0 lead.

Zucker put them in front to stay at 7:43, when he threw the puck toward the crease from along the goal line near the right corner. Kuemper apparently lost track of the puck, and ultimately pushed it across the goal line with his left leg pad.

“I was actually trying to pass that to (Evgeni Malkin), backdoor,” Zucker said. “A little bit of puck luck, but we’ll take it.”

The Capitals had a chance to pull even when Rutta was penalized for cross-checking at 12:30, but just 23 seconds after he went to the penalty box, McGinn scored a shorthanded goal.

Carter stole the puck just inside the Capitals’ blue line and fed it to McGinn in the slot. McGinn threw a shot between Keumper’s legs, and the puck wobbled across the goal line for his second goal of the season.

The goal was a bonus for the shorthanded unit, which prevented the Washington power play — a group that had been scoring on 27.1 percent of its opportunities — from capitalizing on any of its four tries.

“I think we’re taking real big strides on our penalty-kill,” Josh Archibald said. “It was a real big test for us tonight, and I thought we came out and performed well.”

Petry put an exclamation point on the Penguins’ second-period outburst at 15:05, putting a shot through traffic and over Kuemper’s glove from the center point. It was Petry’s second of the season and his first point in nine games.

Marcus Johansson ended DeSmith’s shutout bid at 12:22 of the third, as he took a feed from Sonny Milano and scored from in front of the net.

The Penguins had a chance to get that goal back when Capitals winger Conor Sheary was penalized for a hit to the head on Filip Hallander, but were unable to capitalize on the power play.

Jake Guentzel, though, closed out the scoring by hitting an empty net at 18:24, giving the Pittsburgh Penguins two points and a major infusion of confidence.

“When this team is playing the right way and playing our game, I think we can beat anybody,” McGinn said. “We just have to build off tonight and go into Toronto (Friday) and have another good game.”

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bigredbaer
bigredbaer
22 days ago

A wounded rival is good medicine!

Wasnt
22 days ago

Was Kap a healthy scratch or injured…..or worse yet he played and I didn’t notice??

Marc Badger
Marc Badger
22 days ago
Reply to  Wasnt

scrrrratched

maybeTROLLn
maybeTROLLn
22 days ago

the PK attAck lookin like 2021 last nite