Lowly Penguins Trample Capitals

Sidney Crosby, left, gets the better of Alex Ovechkin, right, on the stat sheet and the scoreboard. (Ron Schwane - Reuters)
Sidney Crosby, left, gets the better of Alex Ovechkin, right, on the stat sheet and the scoreboard. (Ron Schwane - Reuters)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 26, 2006

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 25 -- As the newly retired Mario Lemieux and the rest of crowd settled into their seats at Mellon Arena on Wednesday night, a video montage of Alex Ovechkin's and Sidney Crosby's highlights played on the scoreboard, setting the stage for the latest matchup of the NHL's most heralded rookies.

But the battle only lasted 40 minutes.

Ovechkin was slowed by a low blow he suffered at the end of the second period, and it was all Crosby and his teammates needed in the third, during which the Penguins scored five times and pulled away for an 8-1 victory, their first in 11 games.

"It was still 3-1 going into the third period and we still had an opportunity," Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said. "We didn't respond."

As a result, the Capitals dropped their second in a row. The loss matched their worst of the season, both by the score of 8-1 against Atlanta and Philadelphia in October and November, respectively.

Ovechkin netted his team's only goal from a nearly impossible angle, but Crosby countered with a goal and three assists, his first four-point performance in the NHL. John LeClair and Mark Recchi each scored a pair of goals and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves.

The Penguins also scored three power-play goals against Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig, who faced 37 shots.

"The power play really clicked," Penguins Coach Michel Therrien said. "Certainly tonight, the power play gave us momentum."

The game marked the second meeting between Ovechkin and Crosby, who first faced off Nov. 22, also in Pittsburgh. In that meeting, Crosby had a goal and an assist in the Penguins' 5-4 win. Ovechkin had an assist that night.

Much has changed in the two months since that first encounter. Hyped as "The Next One," Crosby began the season as the odds-on favorite to win the Calder Trophy.

The rookies dominated the second period.

Ovechkin controlled a bouncing puck, and while skating away from the net whipped around and fired a shot from a tight angle over Fleury's glove. Ovechkin's perfectly placed shot appeared to catch the Penguins' net-minder off guard on the power play. It tied the game at 1 at 5 minutes 22 seconds.

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