WASHINGTON — T.J. Oshie scored the go-ahead goal in the third period when the Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 at Capital One Arena on Sunday to move into first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Oshie poked in his own rebound at 10:40, which was one of four third-period goals for the Capitals. Washington moved two points ahead of Pittsburgh in the division.
“We needed a win,” said Capitals forward Carl Hagelin, who scored two goals including the 100th of his NHL career. “I think it was a gutsy effort. Showed a lot of character there in the third.”
[WATCH: All Penguins vs. Capitals highlights]
Jakub Vrana and Tom Wilson scored, and Braden Holtby made 33 saves for the Capitals (38-18-6), who had lost four straight (0-3-1).
“The only way to work through it was to go out there and get it done,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t an easy game. There were ups and downs. That’s a character win. It’s one win. We’re going to learn from it, it was great for the team, but we’ve got to keep going here.”
Patric Hornqvist, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored for Pittsburgh (37-18-6), which has lost three straight games. Matt Murray made 18 saves.
“I thought we played real well,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, whose team has been outscored 14-5 in its previous three games. “It was one of our better games in a while. I thought we had a lot of really good moments in the game.”
Malkin tied the game 3-3 at 8:50 of the third when he eluded defenseman John Carlson on the rush and slid the puck past Holtby.
“We get the tying goal there and then they scored on a scrum in front of the net and that was the game for them,” Hornqvist said. “Overall I think we’re the better team and it’s two good teams going after it. It’s a [heck] of a matchup. It’s fun out there and I think both teams feel the same way.”
Vrana gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 6:12 of the first period. Murray made the initial save on a breakaway but Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson knocked the pocked across the goal line.
The Penguins scored twice in a 26-second span of the second period to take a 2-1 lead. Hornqvist made it 1-1 at 14:47 scoring on the rebound of a Kris Letang shot. Crosby scored at 15:13 to make it 2-1 when his shot was pushed in by Oshie.
Wilson tied the score 2-2 at 1:16 of the third period when he beat Murray on a breakaway.
“It’s tough. I’ll take the blame for that [loss],” Murray said. “I think if I make the save on that breakaway on Wilson, it’s a different game. That one’s on me.”
Hagelin scored on a loose puck in front of the net to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead at 4:41 of the third. He added an empty-net goal with 47 seconds remaining for the 5-3 final.
“We were calm,” Alex Ovechkin said. “We knew we play a solid game. Yeah, they scored two goals – quick one. but overall we knew it was going to be that type of game. We just (had) no panic and you can see huge goal by Haggy obviously to give us the lead and then we knew like if we were going play the same way, we can get results.”
They said it
“It’s disappointing we didn’t get the result, but like I said, I thought we played a much better hockey game. It was a competitive game. They’re a good team, we’re a good team. But I really liked our game. I thought we played on our toes. We were skating. We moved our feet. The power play was good. We didn’t score but we did everything but score. There was a lot to like about this game and that’s what I told the guys afterward.” — Penguins coach Mike Sullivan
“A few breakdowns that they were able to capitalize on, but for the most part I would say that was the most connected five-man game that we’ve played probably in all three zones in quite some time. There’s still mistakes, and we still have to get better in a number of areas, but this was a step in the right direction. Good to see the guys get rewarded with a big third.” — Capitals coach Todd Reirden
Need to know
Carlson had an assist on Hagelin’s first goal for his 475th NHL point to pass Calle Johansson for the Capitals all-time team lead among defenseman. He has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in his past 11 games. … Letang played his 800th NHL game. … Penguins forward Dominik Kahun (undisclosed) missed his second straight game.
Penguins: At the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV)
Capitals: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, TSN3, NHL.TV)