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A Few Shifts May Have Changed the Penguins Season

The Pittsburgh Penguins stepped up in necessary moments to end their historic losing streak.

It wasn't a perfect performance, but the Pittsburgh Penguins got the job done on Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals. The Penguins stepped up with a handful of important shifts at the right moments to turn the tide of the game and potentially their season. 

The 4-1 victory stopped the bleeding of the Penguins seven-game losing streak they endured for the previous two and a half weeks. Getting into the win column will help boost this team, but the timely performance of the Penguins penalty kill and their top forward line shifted and held the momentum in their favor.

After taking a 1-0 lead on a fortunate bounce for Jason Zucker, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin took matters into his own hands to kickstart his team. Ovechkin blasted Jan Rutta behind the Penguins net, leading to a retaliatory penalty by Rutta directly after.

Ovechkin opened the door for the Capitals to take back the momentum with a power play goal, but the Penguins penalty kill stepped up massively. Brock McGinn extended the Penguins lead with a shorthanded goal. The Penguins then shut down the remainder of the Capitals power play, continuing their recent streak of successful kills. 

Shortly after the kill, the Penguins continued to shift the momentum in their favor when Jeff Petry beat Darcy Kuemper to extend the lead to 3-0. 

Fast forward to the third period. The Penguins held onto a 3-1 lead but were already down two defensemen, and the Capitals had begun to sustain offensive pressure. With four minutes left in the game, Sidney Crosby's line hopped over the boards and swayed the momentum back into the Penguins favor.

They didn't do anything fancy, and they didn't create much of a scoring opportunity, but Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Rickard Rakell cycled the puck deep in the Capitals zone, forcing Ovechkin's line to chase the puck in their end. The Crosby line maintained puck possession for their entire 45-second shift draining the Caps top weapons and the time left on the clock. 

Even without generating a scoring chance, the Crosby line swayed the momentum back into the Penguins favor and helped seal the victory against their division rivals.

It may not seem like much, but these two sequences played a major factor in the Penguins victory over the Capitals. Considering the importance of that win, they may have shifted the course of the Penguins season.

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