The Washington Capitals clinched the top spot in the Metropolitan Division for the third consecutive season, scoring a single goal in each period en route to a 3-1 victory over the Penguins on Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer stopped 36 shots for the win, but Alex Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet in his 1,000th NHL game. Washington won for the sixth time in seven games.
The second-place Penguins are trying to hold off the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils in the Metropolitan. Pittsburgh holds a two-point lead on Columbus and Philadelphia, and a three-point lead on New Jersey. However, the Blue Jackets, Flyers and Devils all have three games remaining, one more than the Penguins.
The Penguins play at Columbus on Thursday before they conclude with a home game against the Ottawa Senators on Friday.
T.J. Oshie put the Capitals on the board first at 6:25 of the opening frame, extending his point-scoring streak to five games. Thanks to a great pass from Andre Burakovsky, Oshie was sprung down the wing for an open chance, and he beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray between the legs.
Amid a stretch in which the Penguins failed to convert on four power-play opportunities, Dmitry Orlov doubled the Washington lead at 13:46 of the second period. Orlov led a rush up the ice, and, while using a Pittsburgh defender as a screen, fired a blocker-side shot for his 10th goal of the season, a career high.
With his assist on Orlov’s goal, Evgeny Kuznetsov registered his 78th point of the season, also a career high.
Tom Wilson scored 23 seconds into the third period to make it a 3-0 Washington lead. Wilson, set up at the side of the crease, neatly deflected a Matt Niskanen point shot for his 14th goal of the season, double his total from last season.
Patric Hornqvist broke Grubauer’s shutout bid by burying a rebound with 3:45 remaining in regulation.
There was a minor dustup between Oshie and Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin with 61 seconds remaining in the game, after which Malkin was sent to the dressing room.
The news wasn’t all good for Washington. Forward Jay Beagle left the game in the first period due to an upper-body injury and didn’t return.
Murray stopped 31 shots as Pittsburgh saw a modest two-game winning streak end.
—Field Level Media