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Caps recap: Capitals showed true grit in win over Penguins

The pre-

Super Bowl

showdown between the

Capitals

and the

Penguins

was significantly lacking sizzle with Pittsburgh stars

Sidney Crosby

and

Evgeni Malkin

out of the lineup. But that doesn't mean the Capitals' 3-0 win on Sunday wasn't impressive.

Pittsburgh had won five straight games without its top two offensive players (Crosby has been out since suffering a concussion against Washington in the Winter Classic and Malkin had missed five games before blowing out his knee in his return last week). But the Capitals put the clamps on the Pittsburgh offense by getting gritty and playing a little old-time defensive hockey.

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The Capitals kept the Penguins on the perimeter and collapsed around rookie goalie

Michal Neuvirth

. They blocked 18 Penguins shots and the steady Neuvirth turned aside the 22 shots that found their way around the Capitals' shin guards, stick blades and the pretty-boy face of

Mike Green

.

The All-Star defenseman took a shanked

Brooks Orpik

one-timer to the dome -- that shot block wasn't on purpose -- and left a trickle of blood on the ice as he skated to the Capitals' bench. Green is expected to miss Tuesday night's game against the

Sharks

with concussion-like symptoms.

Back to the defense, the Capitals sucked the excitement out of what the

NHL

and NBC had hoped would be another marquee matchup between Crosby and

Alex Ovechkin

. They played the kind of no-nonsense hockey that gets it done in the playoffs, stifling

Jordan Staal

and the Penguins offense by building a barricade in front of Neuvirth, who could have tended goal in a folding chair.

Sure, it's a lot more exciting when Ovechkin's toe drags are effective and

Alexander Semin

is hot and healthy. But snoozefest hockey still gets it done in the playoffs (see last year's

Canadiens

). Hopefully the Capitals file this one away in their memory banks for when April rolls around.

The Capitals, who have won two straight, host the Sharks on Tuesday night and the

Kings

on Saturday before heading out to the West Coast for the start of a five-game road trip.

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