Kunitz scores winnner as Penguins beat Capitals 2-1, keeping Hunter winless
WASHINGTON - Chris Kunitz scored the winner at 2:36 of the third period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat Washington 2-1 Thursday night to keep the Capitals winless under new coach Dale Hunter.
Craig Adams also scored for the Penguins, who improved to 4-1-1 since captain Sidney Crosby returned to the lineup following an 11-month absence with a concussion.
Jason Chimera got his team-leading 10th goal for the Capitals, who were 11-0-2 against their bitter rivals in the regular season since March 8, 2009.
Tomas Vokoun stopped 33 shots, but the Capitals couldn't back his effort with any firepower on the other end of the ice. The Capitals took only 17 shots against Marc-Andre Fleury in their second straight 2-1 loss since Hunter, a former Capitals star, replaced the fired Bruce Boudreau on Monday.
Crosby was held without a point for only the second time in six games since his return. He received his concussion by taking two blows to the head last January, the first of which came against the Capitals on New Year's Day in the Winter Classic. Since coming back, the standout centre has two goals and nine assists.
Crosby's lengthy absence, along with the ineffectiveness this season of Washington's Alex Ovechkin, has dimmed one of the NHL's most notable individual duels. Ovechkin was also held without a point, and he has only one goal in his last 10 games.
Kunitz got the game-winner by skating around a check by John Erskine and firing a wrist shot that bounced off Vokoun and bounded into the net.
Washington has lost four straight and seven of nine.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead at 5:21 of the first period when Arron Asham gained control of the puck behind the net, skated out and sent a pass across the slot to Adams, who scored from the left side.
Six seconds later, Asham and Erskine dropped their gloves and got into an old-fashioned hockey fight. Both landed several good blows before tumbling to the ice.
The Penguins outshot the Capitals 13-4 in the opening 20 minutes. Crosby had two shots, and 11 of his teammates had one apiece.
Washington pulled even at 1:20 of the second period when Chimera lifted an up-close backhander over Fleury's left shoulder.
NOTES: Pittsburgh recalled D Simon Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, and in his NHL debut, the 20-year-old Despres got the second assist on Kunitz's goal. ... Chimera's 10 goals match his output of last season.