WASHINGTON (AP) – Nicklas Backstrom had two goals and three assists and T.J. Oshie enjoyed a four-point game as the Washington Capitals broke out of a recent funk to rout the rival Pittsburgh Penguins 7-1 on Wednesday night.
Oshie had two goals and two assists, and Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov and Justin Williams also scored for the Capitals, who had lost three of four. Braden Holtby stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced, allowing only a late goal to Phil Kessel.
The Penguins lost Stanley Cup-winning goalie Matt Murray late in the first period when teammate Evgeni Malkin accidentally hit him in the head. Murray allowed two goals on 14 shots before leaving, and Marc-Andre Fleury gave up five goals on 25 shots in relief.
Ovechkin left the ice briefly in the second period holding his right wrist but returned a few minutes later and registered his first point in five games.
The Capitals dominated play in the teams’ second meeting of the season after losing in a shootout on opening night in Pittsburgh. The Penguins didn’t help themselves by taking 10 penalties, most notably Malkin’s double-minor for roughing in the scrum that injured Murray and a hooking infraction later.
Despite the defending champions being rested, they struggled to match the intensity of the team they eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last spring. Washington found offense in every phase of the game with goals at even strength, on the power play and short-handed.
Oshie scored his seventh of the season on a short-handed rebound 7:32 in and got his eighth on a power-play rebound with 7.9 seconds left in the first. That goal came against an ice-cold Fleury, who didn’t get to warm up after replacing Murray when he was injured.
No matter who was in net, the first was one of the Capitals’ best periods of the season and sent a message after they lost in overtime Tuesday at Columbus.
NOTE: F Tom Sestito played for the first time since Nov. 3, replacing Tom Kuhnhackl in the Penguins’ lineup. Sestito played just 4:49 and was given a 10-minute misconduct at the end of the second period.
Penguins: Continue their three-game road trip at the New York Islanders on Friday night.
Capitals: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night as they continue a five-game homestand.