WASHINGTON – With Penguins captain Sidney Crosby watching from the press box, Washington's Jason Chimera scored off a turnover in the first period and Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves, giving the Capitals a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night, Pittsburgh's sixth consecutive loss.
Vokoun handed Pittsburgh its first shutout this season. The Penguins have scored only six goals in the skid.
Chimera gave Washington the only offense it needed at 15:25, finishing a 3-on-1 rush right in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's net. Capitals defenseman Joel Ward stole the puck in his own end and sent it to Jeff Halpern along the right boards. Halpern centered to Chimera, who easily scored his 14th goal, second on the Capitals to Alex Ovechkin.
The Capitals have won seven of eight at home.
There wasn't a whole lot of excitement, other than the lone goal and a fight less than 2½ minutes in between Washington's Matt Hendricks and Pittsburgh's Craig Adams. The Capitals managed only one shot in the opening 11 minutes, and there were a total of two power plays all evening.
The drabness was sort of fitting. This game was hardly the glamorous, all-eyes-on-this-one event that Penguins vs. Capitals — and, more to the point, Sid the Kid vs. Alex the Great — had been for quite some time.
No longer are these teams — and those star players — contending for supremacy in the Eastern Conference and the entire NHL. Halfway through the season, the Penguins entered Wednesday eighth in the 15-team East, two spots ahead of the Capitals.
Pittsburgh is on its longest losing skid since a 10-game drought in 2006. Washington had lost two in a row, both on the road, by a combined score of 10-4.
Crosby was wearing a jacket and tie while stationed in the press box. Still sidelined by concussion symptoms, he hasn't played since Dec. 5, and only now is ready to resume skating. As it is, the past NHL scoring champion and MVP has played in eight games this season after being out for 11 months with a concussion that stemmed in part from a hit in the Winter Classic against Washington on New Year's Day in 2011.
"I'll certainly be glad to see him on the ice," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said before the game, adding that Crosby will speak to the media soon.
The Penguins also are without injured defenseman Kris Letang (concussion symptoms), and center Jordan Staal (foot) is out four to six weeks, though the team received good news early Tuesday when forward James Neal revealed his foot — originally thought to be broken — was instead just bruised.
Two-time league MVP Ovechkin, meanwhile, might be healthy and on the ice, but he is into the second season of a scoring slump that has him on pace for another mediocre-for-him total of about 35 goals. He didn't have a point Wednesday.
Ovechkin is playing without Washington's two next-most-important players, both out with injuries. Center Nicklas Backstrom is on the injured list after getting elbowed in the head last week, and defenseman Mike Green has played in only 10 games all season.
NOTES: Vokoun earned his second shutout this season and the 46th of his career. ... Pittsburgh put LW Steve MacIntyre on waivers. He didn't score in 10 games. ... The Penguins removed LW Dustin Jeffrey from the injured list and put D Simon Despres on it because of a knee injury. He could be out two-to-four weeks. ... D Tomas Kundratek, just recalled from AHL Hershey, made his NHL debut for the Capitals. He was paired on the blue line with Roman Hamrlik; veterans Jeff Schultz and John Erskine were healthy scratches. Kundratek was acquired in November from the New York Rangers for F Francois Bouchard in a swap of minor leaguers.