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Capitals snap skid, beat Penguins to vault into first place

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Washington. Also seen is Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov (9). (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Facing another deficit and the prospect of their losing streak dragging on, Capitals players returned to the locker room at the second intermission with some things to say.

“We were just saying we've got to show some character,” veteran Carl Hagelin said. “Things haven't gone the way we wanted. It's time for us to show up.”

Oh, they showed up.

Washington scored three goals in the first 11 minutes of the third period to come back and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Sunday. The Capitals snapped their skid at four and leapfrogged their archrivals into first place.

“We happy we get two points,” captain Alex Ovechkin said the day after scoring his 700th career goal in a loss. “It was important mentally game for us. We play against very good opponent and it was huge two points.”

Perhaps being down at home against Pittsburgh was just what the Capitals needed. They were outshot 36-23 but showed the kind of resolve that was lacking during a recent run of eight losses in 11 games.

Thank the Penguins for supplying the urgency.

“The intensity was up a little bit,” said goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 33 saves. “We were moving our feet and we were trying to work for success. Sometimes a good opponent, a kind of rivalry game, that can bring that out in you when you need a little boost.”