PITTSBURGH — Bryan Rust had two goals and an assist to help the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Washington Capitals 6-3 at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.
Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby each had a goal and an assist, and Tristan Jarry made 28 saves for the Penguins (7-5-1), who could sweep the Capitals for a second time this season when they play here again Tuesday. They won the first two meetings, 4-3 in a shootout Jan. 17 and 5-4 in overtime Jan. 19.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana scored in their return from NHL COVID-19 protocol, and Vitek Vanecek made 32 saves for Washington (6-4-3), which had three games postponed since last playing Feb. 7. The Capitals have lost four straight.
Kuznetsov, who played for the first time since Jan. 19, put the Capitals ahead 1-0 after his shot deflected off Penguins defenseman John Marino on a power play at 5:18 of the first period.
The Penguins answered with two goals in 32 seconds.
Rust tied it 1-1 at 10:29. After taking a backhand pass from Crosby, Mike Matheson moved it to Rust to tip it inside the right post.
Brandon Tanev gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead by scoring on a rebound off a shot from Cody Ceci at 11:01 before Vrana tied it 2-2 on a backhand at 3:26 of the second period.
Rust put the Penguins ahead 3-2 with a wrist shot at 6:44, ending a stretch of 21 straight unsuccessful power plays.
Guentzel made it 4-2, Pittsburgh’s first two-goal lead of the season, when he had a shot blocked before following with a wrist shot from the slot at 10:44.
Nicklas Backstrom scored his 250th NHL goal by stealing the puck from Evgeni Malkin for a backhand, cutting it to 4-3 at 17:49.
Zach Aston-Reese scored an empty-net goal to make it 5-3 with 1:03 remaining in the third period, and Crosby scored into an empty net for the 6-3 final with 49 seconds left.