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Capitals Vs. Penguins: Alex Ovechkin, Caps Too Much For Pens

Sports Network | February 22, 2011


Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Alex Ovechkin scored on a devastating slap shot and Michal Neuvirth made 39 saves, lifting the Washington Capitals to a 1-0 win over Pittsburgh on Monday.

Neuvirth stopped 18 shots in the first period, seven in the second and 14 in the final period for his third career shutout, backstopping Washington to its third win in four games.

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury took a hard-luck loss, allowing only one goal on 24 shots -- Ovechkin's blast from the point on a power play in the second period.

Coming off a shootout loss in Chicago on Sunday, Pittsburgh lost for the sixth time in eight games.

The Capitals, meanwhile, finished 3-2 on their road trip and won the season series with Pittsburgh, 3-0-1. They beat the Penguins for the 10th time in the last 12 meetings and won their seventh straight game in Pittsburgh.

"It's always fun to play against Pittsburgh," said Ovechkin. "It's always important to get two points, especially on the road."

Monday's game was the first time the Capitals played at Pittsburgh's new arena, Consol Energy Center. Their earlier visit this season was for the rainy Winter Classic at Heinz Field, which they won 3-1.

This one started slow. The first period was scoreless despite the Penguins peppering Neuvirth and Washington getting off seven shots.

Heated rivals for the last several years, the teams didn't even mix it up until the second period was almost halfway over.

Capitals forward Matt Bradley drilled Matt Cooke in the corner, leading to a scrum that included Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal. Bradley was whistled for charging and Staal took a roughing penalty.

Moments later, Ovechkin let loose a slap shot from the right circle that Fleury stopped with a swooping glove save. Then, there was a fight between Bradley and Pittsburgh's Ryan Craig, with both players landing punches near the boards at mid-ice.

But the game remained 0-0 until Ovechkin, lingering inside the blue line on a power play, took a pass from Marcus Johansson and ripped a slap shot from the point that Fleury couldn't stop.

Despite having a clear look at it, Fleury allowed the puck to zip through his legs. The goal, at 16:38 of the second period, was Ovechkin's 24th of the season.

Fleury faced only three shots in the third period before he was pulled in the final minute for an extra skater, but the Penguins couldn't get the equalizer.

"We controlled just about every aspect of that game, we just couldn't find a way to put the puck in the net," said Pittsburgh forward Mike Rupp.

The Penguins will host San Jose on Wednesday before starting a five-game road trip that includes visits to Carolina, New Jersey, Boston and back-to-back games in Toronto.

Pittsburgh's last home win over the Caps came in overtime on December 27, 2007...Earlier Monday, the Penguins traded defenseman Alex Goligoski to the Dallas Stars for forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen. Goligoski, 25, had nine goals and 22 assists with a plus-20 rating in 60 games with Pittsburgh this season...Penguins defenseman Brian Strait made his NHL debut, logging 13 minutes on the ice.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.