WASHINGTON (AP) – Patric Hornqvist scored a power-play goal and assisted on another in his season debut to help the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Wednesday night in their first meeting since the playoffs.
Hornqvist assisted on a goal by Kris Letang, the defenseman’s first since Feb. 4 after missing the end of last season and playoffs because of neck surgery. Hornqvist, who scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal last spring despite a broken finger on his right hand, was playing for the first time since offseason surgery to repair it.
Conor Sheary scored the Penguins’ third goal as they went 3 for 6 on the power play. The Capitals’ six minor penalties were a season high and contributed to their first regulation loss.
Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading eighth goal of the season in the Capitals’ fourth game. Christian Djoos assisted on Ovechkin’s goal and scored in his NHL debut to become the third defenseman in franchise history to score in his debut after Steve Poapst and Hall of Famer Scott Stevens.
Matt Murray stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced to pick up the victory. Braden Holtby made 33 saves for Washington.
Although Ovechkin’s goal made things interesting at 3-2 with 7:09 left in the third period, Hornqvist staked the Penguins to a lead and paid immediate dividends in his return. Coach Mike Sullivan expected Hornqvist to be “a momentum guy,” which the 30-year-old Swede was on the power play.
Hornqvist was on the ice and around the net for all three Penguins goals. He also scored in their Game 7 victory in Washington in the second round of the playoffs last year, the last time these teams faced each other.
The Penguins will visit Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.