Penguins 4, Capitals 0

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- The bitter rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals has become pretty one-sided lately.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby outplayed Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, scoring one goal and assisting on another as the Penguins rolled to a 4-0 win over the Capitals to remain in first place atop the Metropolitan Division standings.
Defenseman Paul Martin, right winger Beau Bennett and left winger James Neal also scored for Pittsburgh and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 18 shots for the 25th shutout of his career as the Penguins extended their lead over the Capitals to three points.
Dating back to the 2011-12 season, the Penguins have beaten the Capitals five straight times by a combined score of 21-9. On Wednesday night, they outshot the Capitals 40-18.
In 26 career meetings between each other, Crosby outscored Ovechkin 44-32. The Penguins are 17-7-2 in the games the two captains have gone head-to-head.
The Penguins outshot the Capitals 38-16, making it a light night for Fleury, who improved his career record against the Capitals to 14-7-2 with two shutouts.
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby fell to 0-4-0 in his career against the Penguins.
He entered the game with a 4.52 goals-against-average against Pittsburgh and those numbers didn't get any better in the first period when Pittsburgh outshot Washington 17-6 and built a 2-0 lead on goals by Martin and Bennett.
Capitals coach Adam Oates used his second line of center Brooks Laich, left winger Martin Erat and right winger Troy Brouwer against the Penguins top line of center Crosby, left winger Chris Kunitz and Bennett.
Those two lines were on the ice for Pittsburgh's first goal, which came after Crosby beat Laich on a faceoff and dropped a pass for Martin. The 32-year-old floated a shot toward Holtby, who was screened by Kunitz and Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy and didn't react until the puck sailed past his catching glove.
The Penguins made it 2-0 on a brilliant pass from center Evgeni Malkin to Bennett, who worked up a head of steam as he crossed the blue line and fired a bullet inside the far left post for his first goal of the season and fourth of his career.
The pace of the game picked up in the second period when both teams traded chances.
The Capitals were called for having too many men on the ice and the Penguins capitalized with 29 seconds remaining in the period on a beautiful passing play that resulted in Crosby's 11th goal of the season.
In a matter of seconds, Malkin passed to Kunitz in the slot, who passed to Neal on the goal line, who found Crosby for a one-timer in the left circle. Crosby's shot made it over Holtby's right shoulder, just under the crossbar.
The Penguins made it 4-0 on Neal's second goal of the season with 7:16 gone in the final period, giving Malkin his second assist of the night and team-high 19th of the season.
NOTES: Washington D Mike Green sat out his third straight game with a lower-body bruise. D Tyson Strachan took his place in the lineup. Green is expected to return to the lineup Friday night when the Capitals conclude their three-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens. ... Entering the game, Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin and Penguins C Sidney Crosby faced each other 25 times in the regular season. In those games, Crosby outscored Ovechkin 43-32. The Penguins were 16-7-2 in those head-to-head meetings. ... Penguins C Evgeni Malkin is on the longest goal drought of his career -- 14 games. ... The Penguins return home to face the New York Islanders Friday, then visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

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