Crosby leads Pens past Capitals again

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

Sidney Crosby has liked a lot of what he has seen from the Penguins on their five-game winning streak.

They have outscored opponents, 23-8.

Their power play is 7 for 19.

He and fellow center Evgeni Malkin have combined for four goals and 16 points.

“We've been a little bit more physical, which probably isn't something that comes to mind when people talk about our team,” Crosby said Thursday night after the Penguins' 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center. “That's part of our identity.”

Coach Dan Bylsma noted the “jam with which we played” against the Capitals, and the Penguins were credited with 19 hits and 12 blocked shots.

However, their brand of physical play is not of the traditional definition.

Penguins vernacular for physical includes skating with tempo and being, as general manager Ray Shero is fond of saying, “tough to play against.”

Toughness comes in the form of faceoff wins, and the Penguins were victorious on 58 percent of draws against the Capitals.

Toughness comes in the form of responding to adversity, and the Penguins did after appearing somewhat sluggish in the opening period, which they finished trailing, 1-0.

Their response was to essentially finish off the Capitals in the second period.

A powerhouse shot by Malkin, his third goal, on the power play pulled the Penguins even early. Crosby's fifth goal late capped a five-goal flurry by the Penguins, who also received markers from right wingers Pascal Dupuis (his fourth), James Neal (his seventh) and left winger Matt Cooke (his second).

The Penguins have outscored the Capitals, 8-1, in the second period this season. This victory, their second in five days, was the first for the Penguins over the Capitals in regulation in Pittsburgh since Feb. 18, 2007.

Alex Ovechkin, who scored a goal in Pittsburgh for a sixth straight game, was visibly distraught about the state of his Capitals (2-8-1, 5 points).

“No emotion,” said Ovechkin, a two-time MVP, adding that he is “angry enough” with the Capitals' league-low point total.

The Penguins (8-3-0, 16 points) again are atop the Eastern Conference with a weekend home-and-home against Atlantic Division rival New Jersey next.

Provided, of course, the Penguins can make it to Newark, N.J., for a Saturday matinee. The National Weather Service forecast calls for up to 13 inches of snow through Friday night.

The Penguins altered their travel plans and will leave via charter plane Friday morning.

Old Man Winter might not succeed at cooling Crosby, who is on the verge of taking over the NHL scoring lead with a six-game scoring streak.

He scored a goal and recorded two assists Thursday night.

He has six points in two victories over the Capitals.

He has two goals and 10 assists on his run and five goals and 17 points on the season.

“Yeah, he's not bad,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said after making 23 saves for his fifth win. “Wait until he gets hot.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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