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Apr 4, 2024 10:05 pm

Penguins jump out early, roll to win over Capitals

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The visiting Pittsburgh Penguins scored twice in the first period Thursday and held on to beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 in a game with large implications on the playoff race.

Ryan Shea, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Michael Bunting and Lars Eller scored, and Reilly Smith added two assists for the Penguins (35-33-11, 81 points), who extended their point streak to seven games (5-0-2). Pittsburgh also pulled within a point of Washington in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race, and within two points of the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders in the chase for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Pittsburgh goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made 30 saves and matched his team’s recent record, going 5-0-2 while starting the past seven games.

Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals (36-29-10, 82 points), who have lost four straight (0-3-1). With this loss and a New York Islanders win Thursday, Washington fell out of a wild-card spot.

Washington goaltender Charlie Lindgren made 20 saves.

It was the 69th head-to-head meeting between Ovechkin and fellow superstar Sidney Crosby of the Penguins. Crosby had his six-game scoring streak halted, but Pittsburgh moved to 40-25-4 in the matchup.

Shea gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead 1:49 into regulation. His shot from the left point made it through traffic and beat Lindgren far side. It was Shea’s first career goal.

The Penguins made it 2-0 at 11:03 of the first. Joseph’s shot from the left point deflected in off Washington defenseman Nick Jensen.

Bunting gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead at 9:08 of the second. Off the rush, he sent a slap shot from the left circle past the goalie’s glove.

On a power play at 6:02 of the third, Ovechkin pulled the Capitals to within 3-1. He banged home a rebound from beside the left post.

Eller’s 400th career point was an empty-netter with 2:37 left.

–Field Level Media

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