PITTSBURGH - Alexander Ovechkin let his play do the talking in what is becoming one of the fiercest interdivisional rivalries in the NHL.
Ovechkin had two goals and an assist and the Washington Capitals snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night.
Niklas Backstrom had three assists, Tomas Fleischmann had a goal and an assist and Viktor Kozlov, Alexander Semin and Jeff Schultz also scored for Washington, which had four third-period goals.
"Today was very emotional game for us," said Ovechkin, who snapped a four-game goal-less streak. "We lost three in a row and had to go on the road to play against a tough team, and we bounced back."
Miroslav Satan had a goal and an assist and Sidney Crosby had two assists for the slumping Penguins, who have lost eight of 10 overall and six of seven at home.
Crosby left late in the game after a collision with David Steckel along the boards. He limped off the ice, favoring his leg. Soon after he went to the locker-room and did not return. After the game, he said he didn't think the injury was severe.
The incident was just the final one in a physical, tension-filled game between two star-studded teams whose stars, at least, don't seem to like each other.
Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin, Crosby and Ovechkin are at the top of the league's season scoring leaders, and Semin has 38 points in 27 games after missing time to injury.
It's no secret Ovechkin and fellow Russian Malkin, who went Nos. 1 and 2 in the 2004 draft, have been feuding. In the two team's previous meeting Oct. 16, Ovechkin repeatedly sought out Malkin to deliver a hit to his former roommate.
And Semin said "What's so special about (Crosby)? I don't see anything special there" in an interview two weeks later with Yahoo.com.
Also, it appears the relationship between Crosby and Ovechkin - who entered the league together during the post-lockout 2005-06 season and were hailed as league co-saviours - might have soured. The previous two NHL scoring champions jawed at each other while the teams came onto the ice to begin the third period.
But the only in-game displays of dislike came when Malkin was penalized for interference when he bumped Ovechkin during a first-period Washington power play and when Ovechkin finished a hard check on Crosby into the boards in the third.
Penguins agitator Matt Cooke bumped Ovechkin in retaliation and was given a penalty.
"I didn't even see him. It was a cheap hit," Ovechkin said about Malkin's hit.
After the game, Malkin was not available to the media, and the Capitals downplayed the personal feuds.
"We don't even talk about it," Fleischmann said "It's just the Washington Capitals against the Penguins, that's how it is and we didn't talk about it."
Before being knocked out of the game, Crosby had retreated to the locker room during the first period after falling hard on his right side after tumbling over Kozlov but returned minutes later.
The Penguins also lost defenceman Rob Scuderi (slap shot to the face) and forward Maxime Talbot (undisclosed) during the game. No word was available on their conditions.
Ovechkin had all three of his points in the third, which began with the teams tied 2-2.
He scored 28th goal of the season on a power play 1:48 into the period, flipping his own rebound over the pads of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
"When he gets in a slump and then breaks the slump, he doesn't break it just to break it," Boudreau said. "He gets two or three... That's what Alex does. He's a real emotional guy and he plays on that passion. And when he gets going, he's pretty hard to stop."
The Penguins tied it 84 seconds later when Crosby fed Whitney for his first goal since Feb. 21 of last season.
But the goal that put the Capitals ahead for good came on the power play via a diving shot by Fleischmann from the slot off Ovechkin's rebound with 11:49 to play.
"There was a puck laying there and open ice," Fleischmann said. "The only way I could reach it was by diving."
Ovechkin's second of the game 3:16 later gave Washington a 5-3 lead. Schultz had an empty-netter, his first of the season, with 1:06 left.
Malkin gave the Penguins the lead 5:45 with his 18th off a feed from Crosby.
Kozlov tied it 1:06 into the second before Satan tallied his 13th seven minutes later that gave the Penguins a lead that lasted only about four minutes until Semin tied it 2-2 with his 18th, a pretty redirection off a feed from Sergei Federov.
Notes: Whitney hadn't scored in 31 games. ... Satan's goal was the 350th of his career but his first in 14 games. ... Ovechkin won only two of his 12 games against Pittsburgh heading into the season, when the Capitals have won both meetings.