Pens overwhelm struggling Caps
Sidney Crosby extended his points streak to six games with a goal and two assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins pounded the lifeless Washington Capitals 5-2 on Thursday night.
Evgeni Malkin also added a goal and two assists while Pascal Dupuis, James Neal and Matt Cooke scored for the Penguins, who have won five straight. Pittsburgh's revamped power play produced three goals, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 23 shots for the Penguins, who moved atop the Eastern Conference standings by beating Washington at home in regulation for the first time in more than five years.
Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro scored for Washington but couldn't stop the NHL's worst team from losing for the fifth time in its last six games. Michal Neuvirth made nine saves for the Capitals before getting pulled for Braden Holtby, who promptly let in three goals in his first seven minutes on the ice.
The Penguins played without All-Star defenseman Kris Letang, who was a late scratch due to a lower-body injury. Pittsburgh hardly needed him on a night the Penguins showcased just how quickly a rivalry featuring two of the NHL's biggest stars in Crosby and Ovechkin has turned into a mismatch.
Defenseman Paul Martin, filling in for Letang as point man on Pittsburgh's top power-play unit, added an assist while helping the Penguins go 3-for-4 with the man advantage.
The Capitals have owned the regular-season series with their biggest rival in recent years and came in 9-0-1 during their last 10 visits to Pittsburgh.
It seems like eons ago now.
Washington has failed to find any footing under new coach Adam Oates, though Oates insisted he has been encouraged by his team's play despite its rough start. Pittsburgh had its way with the Capitals in a 6-3 victory in Washington on Sunday as Chris Kunitz scored four times.
Rangers 4, Islanders 1: Teenage rookie J.T. Miller scored his first two NHL goals in his second career game to lift the Rangers to their second win in three games.
Devils 4, Lightning 2: Ilya Kovalchuk broke a tie with a short-handed goal late in the second period and New Jersey won its third straight game by beating slumping Tampa Bay.
Sabres 5, Canadiens 4: Thomas Vanek scored twice in regulation, including the tying tally with 2 seconds left, and added a shootout goal to rally Buffalo.
Red Wings 5, Blues 1: Petr Mrazek made 26 saves in his NHL debut, leading Detroit.
Flames 4, Blue Jackets 3: Alex Tanguay scored on a one-timer 1:07 into overtime to lead Calgary to victory in a battle of Western Conference cellar-dwellers.
Canucks 4, Wild 1: Corey Schneider made 22 saves and Mason Raymond had a power-play goal and an assist in the second period to lead Vancouver to its fourth straight win.
Predators 3, Kings 0: Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for his first shutout of the season and Colin Wilson scored two goals to lead Nashville.
Maple Leafs 3, Jets 2: Phil Kessel scored his first goal of the season late in the third period to lift Toronto.
Blackhawks 6, Coyotes 2: Patrick Kane had two goals and an assist, and Chicago remained the only NHL team without a loss in regulation this season.
Bruins deal Thomas to Islanders: Veteran goalie Tim Thomas, who has said he won't play this season, was traded by the Boston Bruins to the New York Islanders on Thursday for a conditional second-round draft choice either next year or in 2015.
Thomas chose to take this season off following the NHL lockout and was suspended by the Bruins after he didn't report to training camp last month. The 38-year-old goalie is in the final season of a four-year deal that counts for $5 million against the salary cap.
Thomas, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goalie, has played in 378 regular-season games -- all with the Bruins. He ranks fourth on Boston's career wins list (196) and third in shutouts (31).
Devils retain Matteau: The New Jersey Devils are keeping first-round draft pick Stefan Matteau with the NHL team for now. The Devils put the 18-year-old Matteau in the lineup for Thursday night's game against Tampa Bay.