WASHINGTON (AP)Casey DeSmith made 24 saves for his first win of the season, and the Pittsburgh Penguins took advantage of Darcy Kuemper’s struggles in net at the other end to beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 Wednesday night and snap their seven-game losing streak.
Behind soft goals from Jason Zucker and Brock McGinn that squeaked through Kuemper and a shot from Jeff Petry just inside the blue line that beat him clean, the Penguins won for the first time since Oct. 22. The skid was the organization’s longest since losing 10 in a row in 2006, during Sidney Crosby’s rookie season.
The recipe to beating rival Washington this time included going a perfect 4 of 4 on the penalty kill against an opponent that was 4 of 5 on the power play in its last game. The Capitals looked out of sorts in that department and got only a too little, too late goal from Marcus Johansson at even strength in the third period.
Kuemper did Pittsburgh a couple of favors, losing the puck behind him and knocking it in for the goal credited to Zucker and not getting enough of McGinn’s shot short-handed a few minutes later in the second. The Capitals goaltender who signed to a five-year contract after backstopping Colorado to the Stanley Cup last season was screened on Petry’s point shot that got past him, the third goal he allowed on 27 shots against.
The Penguins finished the game down two defensemen after Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Jan Rutta left in the second period. It was not clear what happened to Joseph; Rutta was leveled on a hit by Alex Ovechkin and went off after serving a penalty for cross-checking in retaliation.
Petry left briefly early in the third after going down in pain, and forward Jeff Carter took a shift on defense. Amid all the injuries, No. 1 defenseman Kris Letang skated a game-high 28:28.
Ovechkin’s point streak ended at six games and his goal streak at three. Missing several key players because of injury, Washington lost for the sixth time in eight games.
NOTES: Jake Guentzel scored an empty-net goal with 1:36 left. … Capitals F Conor Sheary blocked a shot in the second and hobbled to the bench but remained in the game. Sheary was whistled for an illegal check to the head in the third that was a minor penalty because he did not extend his arm to make contact. … Penguins F Filip Hallander and Capitals D Alexander Alexeyev each made his season debut and played his second career NHL game.
Penguins: Visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.
Capitals: Face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night to wrap up a four-game home stand.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports