The Pittsburgh Penguins used their “commando” unit, led by Rob Brown and Mario Lemieux, to snap the Washington Capitals’ 5-game winning streak Friday.
Brown scored three power-play goals and Lemieux added a short-handed goal and two assists as the Penguins defeated Washington, 5-3, at Landover, Md.
The Penguins won the battle of the special teams, scoring four power-play goals and a short-handed goal to Washington’s three power-play goals.
“That’s our commando group,” said Pittsburgh Coach Gene Ubriaco, who watched the game from the press box after sitting out the fourth game of a five-game suspension. Ubriaco received the automatic suspension after one of his players, Troy Loney, left the bench to join a fight in a game Nov. 13 against Vancouver.
“You’ve got to have commando units these days,” Ubriaco said. “The referees have been told to call penalties, and that’s what you’re going to get.”
Brown scored twice in the first period as Pittsburgh opened a 3-1 advantage, and he completed his second hat trick of the season 4:41 into the final period.
Brown’s 3 power-play goals gave him a league-leading 14 power-play goals this season. He has 21 goals in all.
Lemieux, who assisted on Brown’s first and third goals, scored his fourth short-handed goal of the season on a breakaway with 3 seconds left in the first period.
Lemieux has scored 3 of his 4 short-handed goals against Washington. He has scored five short-handed goals in his last four games against Washington, dating to the final meeting between the teams last season.
Washington got within 3-2 on a power-play goal at 6:08 of the second period by Geoff Courtnall, but Pittsburgh went ahead, 4-2, on a power-play goal by Dan Quinn with 9:39 left in the second period.
After Brown’s third goal, 4:41 into the final period, Mike Ridley scored on a power play with 12:40 left to pull Washington within 5-3.
Minnesota 5, Toronto 3--Brian Bellows had a hat trick, including two goals in a span of 1:13 in a four-goal Minnesota first period, as the North Stars defeated the Maple Leafs at Bloomington, Minn.
Minnesota, which has only 14 points, the worst record in the NHL, rushed to a 4-0 lead with goals from Brian MacLellan and Neal Broten and Bellows’ first two.
Buffalo 5, Chicago 4--At Buffalo, Phil Housley scored 3:15 into overtime to lift the Sabres to their first overtime victory since Jan. 18, 1987. Housley scored the goal, his ninth of the season, on a point-blank shot from in close, set up by Adam Creighton.
Buffalo’s John Tucker had tied the score at 4-4 with less than 3 minutes left to play.
Detroit 6, Winnipeg 3--Tim Higgins and Steve Yzerman scored goals 1:03 apart in the first period, and the Red Wings killed off more than 7 minutes of Winnipeg power plays early in the final period to beat the Jets at Detroit.
Detroit’s penalty killers, led by Higgins, Dave Barr, Mike O’Connell and Shawn Burr, held the Jets to just 3 shots during the short-handed span of 7:18, including 1:32 when the Red Wings were two men short.
New Jersey 2, Vancouver 2--John MacLean’s goal with 6:05 left in the third period lifted the Devils to the tie against the Canucks at Vancouver, Canada.
Vancouver is unbeaten in 4 games (3-0-1), and New Jersey is winless in 5 (0-4-1).
MacLean, who started the night with only 1 goal in his last 13 games, beat goalie Steve Weeks with a drive from the right circle. Later, with slightly more than a minute left in overtime, MacLean almost won the game with a slap shot, but Weeks made a good save.