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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Washington Capitals enjoyed one of their best defensive efforts against one of the league's top offensive teams.
The Capitals, known for their offensive firepower, did it with defense on Saturday as Braden Holtby stopped 31 shots and Eric Fehr scored two goals, leading to a 3-0 victory against the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
"You could tell they were pressing a little bit, and I think that's when we play our best, when we get a lead," Fehr said. "We try to get the other team playing out of their comfort zone. I think we frustrated them a little bit with the style of play we had."
Fehr, who scored twice during the Capitals' win in the 2011 Winter Classic at Pittsburgh, did it again on Saturday with his eighth and ninth goals of the year. Marcus Johansson got his 10th for the Capitals, who won for the fifth time in seven games.
Washington also defeated Pittsburgh for the first time since Jan. 22, 2012 — a span of nine games.
Holtby, making a career-high 12th straight start, has eight wins during that stretch. It was his 16th win and third shutout of the season on Saturday.
"I thought we did a great job of everything in the defensive zone," Holtby said. "A team like that, they're obviously going to get some chances, but the way we controlled them in our end was very good."
The Penguins, who saw a five-game home win streak end, lost their third straight overall, dropping back-to-back regulation games for the first time this season. Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves.
Johansson gave Washington a two-goal lead at 5:36 of the third period, snapping a wrist shot past Fleury from the top of the circle during a two-on-one.
Fehr was falling to the ice later in the third when he tapped Joel Ward's redirection behind Fleury from the top of the crease for his second goal.
"It's frustrating because we were close, especially in the second," Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby said. "The next goal is so important and they grabbed the momentum with that second goal. We were hanging around for awhile, but didn't have enough to get that first one."
Washington has eight wins in 12 games this month, but this one was special for Capitals' defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Both played with Pittsburgh last season before signing in Washington as free agents in July. Capitals' assistant coach Todd Reirden also was an assistant with the Penguins last season.
"I think everybody in the room wanted to get the game for (Orpik) and (Niskanen), but also Todd," Capitals' coach Barry Trotz said. "They've been great adds for us."
Niskanen led all NHL defensemen with a plus-33 rating last year, establishing a career-best 46 points. Orpik, who won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009, appeared in 703 games, a team record for a defenseman, recording 132 points and 734 penalty minutes. The Penguins picked him in the first round of the 2000 NHL draft and he spent 11 seasons in Pittsburgh.
"I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel a little better than most games," Orpik said. "We knew they were missing some guys, so it's a good opportunity to kind of jump on them."
The Penguins continue to deal with injury and a league-wide mumps outbreak.
Forward Steve Downie and backup goaltender Thomas Greiss were the latest confirmed cases, joining captain Sidney Crosby, who missed three games earlier this month, forward Beau Bennett and defenseman Olli Maatta.
"It feels like every game we're losing somebody," Crosby said. "It's not easy, but nobody's going to feel sorry for us. We just have to find a way to hold on while guys are out."
NOTES: Maatta will be out four weeks while continuing a rehab program on an upper-body injury. The Capitals have earned a point in 10 of their last 12 road games. The Penguins visit New Jersey on Monday. . Pittsburgh scratched D Brian Dumoulin in addition to Downie and Greiss, while Washington sat LW Jason Chimera and D Nate Schmidt. Pittsburgh recorded its 300th straight sellout...The Capitals visit the New York Islanders on Monday, playing on the road for the sixth time in seven games, before opening 2015 at Nationals Park in Washington, where they will meet the Chicago Blackhawks in the annual Winter Classic.
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