WASHINGTON -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are making the most of their opportunities against the Washington Capitals.
Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel each had two goals and an assist, Marc-Andre Fleury made 34 saves and the Penguins defeated the Capitals 6-2 on Saturday night to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal.
"It wasn't a situation where we had chance after chance after chance and I think we got some good looks and we put them in," Crosby said. "It's not always going got work like that, but you have to be able to win different ways and with the start we had we needed to find a way to get momentum back."
After winning twice in Washington, the Penguins host Game 3 on Monday night.
Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist for Washington, which has yet to lead in the series. Matt Niskanen added a goal and Alex Ovechkin had two assists. For the second game in a row, the Capitals had a huge lead in shot attempts (89-40).
Washington is two losses removed from again following a Presidents' Trophy win with a conference semifinal exit. The team held a players-only meeting after the game.
"Sometimes you need to hear more from your teammates than you do from your coach and tonight was one of those nights," T.J. Oshie said.
With Washington trailing 3-1 after two periods, goaltender Braden Holtby was pulled after allowing three goals on 14 shots.
"I thought on some of the goals he wasn't as sharp as he can be for us," coach Barry Trotz said. "He's a game-changer for us, so when he didn't change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit."
Philipp Grubauer (six saves) came on and Kessel beat him for a power-play goal at 2:19 to make it 4-1.
Moments later Backstrom scored on Ovechkin's rebound at 3:44, but Pittsburgh made it 5-2 at 5:31. Malkin's deflection was initially waved off for goaltender interference, but the Penguins challenged and the call was overturned.
Guentzel added an empty-netter for his seventh goal of the playoffs.
"I have a lot of trust in this group," Trotz said. "They've responded all year and they will respond again."
The Capitals dominated the first period, but couldn't beat Fleury.
"Flower was great for us and he kept us in it," Kessel said. "Obviously, he's been special so far and he won us the game again."
Pittsburgh's Patric Hornqvist left the ice in obvious pain after blocking a shot late in the period. He went back to the locker room and did not return.
In the second period, with the Capitals on the power play, Cullen blocked Kevin Shattenkirk's shot from the point, poked the puck away from Shattenkirk and came in on Holtby ahead of the defense. Despite being hooked by Oshie, Cullen slid the puck through the five hole for a short-handed goal and a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead.
"This group find ways to have success," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "When teams want to play an aggressive game against us, there's risk reward and so when we get high quality opportunities, that's when we believe our quick strike capability is at its best."
With Washington still on the power play, Niskanen, all alone in the slot, beat Fleury on a one-timer off a pass from Ovechkin.
The Penguins regained the lead at 13:04 when Crosby entered the zone and, with a trio of defenders closing on him, fed across to Kessel. Kessel's wrister went off Holtby's arm and in on Pittsburgh's 12th shot of the game.
Guentzel made it 3-1 with 3:46 left in the period when he kept the puck on a two-on-one and fired under Holtby's glove from the right circle for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
The play started when Crosby blocked a shot and got the puck to Guentzel while down on the ice.
"We played really, really well in the first period, didn't get rewarded," Niskanen said. "They capitalized on a couple of mistakes in the second, and that changed the game."
NOTES: Penguins F Carl Hagelin (lower body injury) played for the first time since March 10. To make room for Hagelin, Pittsburgh F Scott Wilson was a scratch. ... Washington D Karl Alzner (upper body injury) missed his sixth straight game. ... The Capitals made one lineup change, inserting RW Paul Carey on the fourth line and scratching RW Brett Connolly. ... With his two assists, C Sidney Crosby (148) moved ahead of Jaromir Jagr (147) for second place on the team's all-time postseason points list. ... Pittsburgh F Chris Kunitz passed Mario Lemieux for fifth place on the team's all-time postseason games played list with 108. ... Capitals RW T.J. Oshie had an assist and has earned nine points (three goals, six assists) in eight games this postseason.