Capitals rout Penguins 6-1 in Crosby’s return

WASHINGTON (AP) — Garnet Hathaway scored his third goal in two games, Alex Ovechkin added two assists and the Washington Capitals spoiled Sidney Crosby’s return Sunday night, routing the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-1.

Martin Fehervary, Daniel Sprong, Conor Sheary, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson also scored for Washington, which won its fourth straight game and pulled even with Carolina atop the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals also trail Florida by a point for the NHL lead.

Jake Guentzel scored in the first period for the Penguins, who got Crosby and defenseman Brian Dumoulin back from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan was also back from protocol, but his team fell behind early and then allowed second-period goals to two former Penguins.

With Washington up 2-1, Dumoulin lost the puck near the blue line. Lars Eller skated in, waited patiently for Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang to slide past, then fed Sprong on the opposite doorstep for his third goal of the season.

Sheary, who was on the Penguins’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2016 and 2017, scored 2:35 later to give Washington a 4-1 advantage with 1:24 left in the second.

Ovechkin found Kuznetsov free in the slot in the third period for his sixth goal of the season. Then Wilson scored on a power play — shortly after Crosby was called for cross-checking to the delight of the Washington crowd.

This was only the second game of the season for Crosby, who in addition to his COVID-related absence also missed the first seven games following offseason surgery.

This was the first time all season the Penguins were playing the second game of a back-to-back, and they couldn’t keep up with a Washington team that continues to win despite being without Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Anthony Mantha. Saturday night’s game wasn’t much better for Pittsburgh — a 6-3 loss at Ottawa.

Fehervary opened the scoring with a short-handed goal, taking a pass from Wilson on a 2-on-1 and beating Tristan Jerry. Washington made it 2-0 when Ovechkin took a long pass off the boards from Trevor van Riemsdyk, then made a cross-ice feed to Hathaway.

Guentzel cut the lead in half with 1:20 left in the first when he was able to collect the puck in front of the crease and stickhandle around goalie Vitek Vanecek.

Hathaway went without a goal in his first 13 games of the season before scoring twice in Washington’s 4-3 win at Columbus on Friday night. Sheary scored a late game-winner in that one, and those two both had multipoint nights against Pittsburgh.

During a first-period stoppage, Ovechkin received a warm ovation from the crowd and a message from Brett Hull was played on the video screen. Ovechkin scored his 742nd goal Friday, moving past Hull for fourth place on the NHL’s career list.

NOTES: Fehervary became the first Capitals rookie defenseman to score a short-handed goal since Ken Klee in 1995.

UP NEXT

Penguins: Host Buffalo on Tuesday night.

Capitals: At Anaheim on Tuesday night.

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Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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