It was Pittsburgh's first game without the legendary Mario Lemieux, who announced his second retirement on Tuesday.
Sidney Crosby had one goal and three assists; Sergei Gonchar also had three assists; Tomas Surovy scored once and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for the Penguins (12-29-9), who broke a season-high 10-game losing streak.
Alexander Ovechkin scored his 34th goal of the season on the power play in the second period. Brian Willsie and Dainius Zubrus had assists; and goalie Olaf Kolzig made 29 saves for the Capitals (17-26-5), who have dropped two in a row following a four-game winning streak.
The Penguins, who scored five times in the third period, out-shot the Capitals, 37-30. On the power play, Washington was 1-for-12; while Pittsburgh went 3-for-8.