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Penguins suffer costly loss

Some losses hurt more than others.

That was the case Wednesday for the Penguins, who were downed by the Washington Capitals, 6-3, at Mellon Arena.

Forget the missed opportunity to win consecutive games for the first time in two months.

The concern late last night was about the status of several players.

Included in that group was captain Sidney Crosby, who hobbled to the bench late in the third period with an apparent left leg injury. Crosby was hit low along the boards by Washington center David Steckel.

Crosby, the Penguins' second-leading scorer with 57 points, did not return.

The Capitals outshot the Penguins, 42-29.

Washington also put a hurting on its rival, which has spent most of this season attempting - not successfully - to overcome injuries to stars and role players alike.

Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi did not return after his forehead absorbed a puck off the stick of Washington defenseman Mike Green in the first period. Scuderi, considered by coaches the club's top penalty-killing defenseman, needed several stitches to close the wound. His status was not immediately known.

Forward Max Talbot did not return after leaving early in the third period with an undisclosed injury. His status also was not immediately known.

Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin scored his 28th and 29th goals and added an assist, playing a part in three of his team's four third-period scores to upstage Penguins rivals Crosby (two assists) and Evgeni Malkin.

The Penguins (21-20-4, 46 points) lost for the sixth time in seven home games - no way for a struggling team to start a crucial four-contest homestand before the All-Star break.

Coach Michel Therrien's club also once again failed to post back-to-back wins. They haven't pulled that off since Nov. 15, when a home victory against Philadelphia capped a six-game winning streak - part of a 7-0-1 stretch that had the Penguins seemingly a lock to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs.

They are facing that playoff door being locked with them on the outside look in. The Penguins, who started yesterday 10th in the Eastern Conference, are 9-16-1 since their seven-game point streak to open November.

It wasn't all bad for the Penguins last night.

There was a first-period power-play goal from Malkin, who tallied his second on the advantage in three games after going without one in 25 previous contests.

There was a second-period goal of any kind from winger Miroslav Satan, who scored his first in 14 games and only his fifth in 31 contests.

There also was a third-period welcome-back blast from defenseman Ryan Whitney, whose comeback from left foot surgery was officially capped by his first goal of the season that began with him missing 33 games.

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