Penguins win 13th in a row in Pittsburgh by beating Caps

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It’s probably not fair to say that Sidney Crosby owns his much-hyped rivalry with Alex Ovechkin. Wednesday’s Rivalry Night game made a strong argument that Crosby’s team is clearly streets ahead, though.

The Pittsburgh Penguins fought back from a third-period deficit to beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 in an exciting contest on NBCSN tonight, generating quite the list of accomplishments against their opponents and the league in general:

  • The Penguins set a franchise record with their 13th consecutive win at home.
  • They’ve now beaten the Capitals six times in a row stretching back to 2011-12.
  • As of this writing, their lead in the Metropolitan Division is 18 points and they also hold a 10-point lead over the Eastern Conference overall.

It all sounds easy, but tonight’s contest was exciting and largely in doubt.

Pittsburgh generated a 17-10 shot advantage in the first period, yet Washington carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. The Penguins tied it up 2-2 through the second period. Ovechkin seemed to score a big one 4-on-4 when he found the net for a league-leading 34th goal, but Jussi Jokinen tied it up 3-3 and then Olli Maatta capitalized on Evgeni Malkin’s setup to win it with a little less than two minutes left.

The Penguins have now won two in a row, five of six and seven of nine games, only failing to gain a standings point in one game during that span (7-1-1). The Capitals have lost three in a row and seven of their last nine as they continue to search for answers in net and elsewhere.

The two teams didn’t seem like they were that starkly separated on the ice, yet tonight’s game shows how thin the line between success and failure really can be in the NHL.