Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik in knocked for a loop by Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist, left. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Evgeny Kuznetsov broke free, losing one defender for a two-on-one rush with Alex Ovechkin. The Verizon Center crowd roared, knowing this was the best chance for the Washington Capitals’ potent offense. Kuznetsov passed to Ovechkin on the left, and Ovechkin pulled back his stick and fired.

But like it had for most of the night, the puck bounced off the pad of Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. An offense that had looked unstoppable for a five-game stretch entering Wednesday night’s game against the Penguins was solved. Fleury made 33 saves, and the Capitals lost, 3-1, dropping just their second game.

“We had some really good chances, but we didn’t capitalize,” Washington Coach Barry Trotz said. “We were right in the crease a lot. I thought that would’ve given us a little momentum.”

The Capitals’ only score on Fleury came on a rush in transition, when Kuznetsov’s shot was deflected off Rob Scuderi’s skate and through Fleury’s legs. “A fortunate goal,” Trotz called it, and Washington was happy to take it on a night Fleury appeared impenetrable. But on the next shift, the Penguins tied the game when Beau Bennett punched back his own rebound.

“It was a pretty good hockey game,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said, “until that one shift we made a couple mistakes on.”

Neil Greenberg, The Post's stats guru, breaks down the Washington Capitals' offseason roster moves and whether the team has enough to seriously contend for the Stanley Cup. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

Pittsburgh’s next shot went in, too. Evgeni Malkin sent the puck across the crease to Phil Kessel, who flipped it past Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. The Capitals had a power play midway through the third period, an opportunity to tie the game, but they couldn’t get past Fleury a second time.

Washington pulled Holtby with less than two minutes left, and Pittsburgh quickly added an empty-net goal.

“We had our chances,” Holtby said. “It just wasn’t going our way.”

Defenseman Matt Niskanen said it was “the most physical and most intense game” the Capitals have played to this point, which wasn’t a surprise to him. The teams have long been rivals, and this marks the 10-year anniversary of the matchup between Ovechkin and Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

But neither player shined in this meeting. It was Fleury’s 27 saves to keep the game scoreless through two periods that were most impressive. On Washington’s second power play, which started 10 minutes 53 seconds into the second period, Fleury made back-to-back saves on point-blank shots by Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie. First, his right pad stopped Johansson, then when Oshie tried to put in the rebound, Fleury used his stick to knock the puck back.

The Penguins fans at Verizon Center loudly chanted, “Fleu-ry,” a warranted appreciation for how he had stymied the Capitals’ potent offense. Before Wednesday night, the Capitals led the league in goals per game with 4.14.

Washington’s first line of Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Oshie had scored 10 of the team’s 24 goals in the five-game winning streak through last week’s western Canada trip. The top line sent a barrage of shots at Fleury early in the first period. In a span of 18 seconds less than five minutes into the game, Ovechkin took three close-range shots on goal and Oshie added one.

Neil Greenberg, The Post's stats guru, breaks down the NHL's contenders and looks at the most intriguing story lines of the 2015-2016 season. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

“We know he’s going to make saves,” center Nicklas Backstrom said. “We tried to stay with it and put pucks on net and go for the rebounds, but he was really good back there.”

The game appeared to be going in the Capitals’ favor earlier. A Pascal Dupuis goal was waved off in the first period after a hand pass by Patric Hornqvist. Then later that period, Pittsburgh had 1:45 of five-on-three power-play time after back-to-back penalties by Chandler Stephenson and Orpik. Right as the Capitals appeared to have momentum after killing off the penalties, defenseman Karl Alzner was called for high-sticking four seconds after Pittsburgh’s first power play ended.

The Penguins couldn’t capitalize on either opportunity, but their goaltender ultimately bailed them out. For just the second time, it was Washington’s dressing room that was quiet and somber after a game.

“For the luck that we’ve had the last few games in offense going in, it catches up to you,” Holtby said. “Our main thing is focusing on what’s made us successful and realizing this isn’t much of a step back. It’s a game we can learn [from], and things didn’t quite go our way, but we’ll have a better performance next game.”