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Not always pretty, but Penguins manage to win vs. Capitals

Bryan Rust led the way for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals, scoring twice and adding an assist to catalyze Pittsburgh’s potent offense.

Both the Capitals and Penguins have work to do. That point was clear heading into Sunday’s game, and it stood after the Penguins beat the Capitals 6-3.

Perhaps Pittsburgh merely needs to take Sidney Crosby’s attitude when he scored an empty-net goal. Crosby got taken down by a desperate Capitals player, but just kept chugging along to add that additional insurance goal.

Speaking of insurance goals, this game was closer than it seemed, as Pittsburgh scored two empty-netters.

Penguins break some cold streaks against Capitals

Heading into Sunday’s game, the Penguins failed to score a power-play goal in eight consecutive contests. They’d gone 0-for-21 during that dry spell.

One game -- or goal -- won’t totally revitalize a power play unit. But the Penguins made strides against the Capitals.

As part of a strong afternoon overall, Bryan Rust scored to break Pittsburgh’s drought on the power play. Rust finished the contest with two goals and one assist.

There were some other firsts/broken slumps for the Penguins, though Pittsburgh probably won’t trumpet such modest successes too loudly.

  • For the first time this season, the Penguins built a two-goal lead. This is their 13th game of the season.
  • Sunday also marked the first time the Penguins carried a lead heading into the third period.

It’s pretty remarkable that the Penguins (now 7-5-1) got this far considering how often they’ve needed to win ugly. They’ve also won all five of their home games so far this season.

Caps losing streak continues

It’s easy to note the struggles the Penguins are going through considering their front office upheaval, but the Capitals have been fighting it lately, too.

The Penguins handed the Capitals their fourth consecutive loss. With all of those losses happening in regulation, Washington slipped to 6-4-3 on the season. So far, the Penguins beat the Capitals in all three meetings this season.

Again, both teams exhibited signs of trouble. If you want to summarize some of Evgeni Malkin’s struggles, and those of Tristan Jarry/other Penguins goalies, merely consult this Nicklas Backstrom goal.

At the moment, the Pens will take this win, ugly or not. For the Capitals, they have to hope that they can get back on track after a series of COVID-related disruptions.

NBC Sports will premiere Doc Emrick – The Voice of Hockey, Presented by Discover – detailing the illustrious career of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member and eight-time Sports Emmy Award winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick – on Sunday, February 21 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, leading into coverage of the NHL outdoor game at Lake Tahoe featuring the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.