LANDOVER -- A flat Washington Capitals team ran into the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins and never had much of a chance at the Capital Centre last night.
The Penguins burned starting Washington goaltender Mike Liut for four goals in the first 8 minutes, 23 seconds and coasted to a 7-3 Patrick Division victory.
It was the seventh triumph in the past eight games for Pittsburgh, and the Capitals remained winless in the past six (0-5-1).
Paul Coffey began the assault on Liut at 6:07 of the first period when he took a pass from Phil Bourque and skated in for a point-blank shot and a 1-0 lead.
It was the first of two straight goals by Coffey in 41 seconds to open the Pittsburgh scoring, and it took only 2:16 for the Penguins to pour in four goals. That spelled the end for Liut, who was pulled by coach Terry Murray in favor of Don Beaupre, who turned in a respectable performance the rest of the way.
Washington's goals came from Dale Hunter, Steve Leach and Alan May.
The Caps and Penguins traded goals in the second period, enabling the visitors to hold on to a 6-2 lead at the end of the period.
Washington got a goal from Leach at 9:31 of the second period to draw within 5-2 and raise a glimmer of hope for a comeback. However, Pittsburgh answered 43 seconds later with a Jaromir Jagr goal for the 6-2 advantage.
After relieving Liut in the first period, Beaupre held the fort for nearly four minutes before Pittsburgh ran the lead to 5-0 on a power-play goal by Zarley Zalapski.
Zalapski was allowed to stand alone at the right circle and steady the puck before drilling it past a defenseless Beaupre.
Pittsburgh needed just seven shots to score the first five goals.
The Capitals countered the Penguins' power-play goal with a man-up goal by Dale Hunter at 14:21 of the first period to end the Pittsburgh spree.
Beaupre prevented further first-period damage at 16:18 when he made a spectacular glove save on a John Cullen shot from point-blank range on the left side of the net.
The save enabled Washington to get out of the first period with a 5-1 deficit, but the team was booed loudly as it left the floor.
The Capitals outshot the Penquins, 10-8, in the first period, but most of the Washington shots were low-percentage attempts from long range.
Pittsburgh 5 1 1 -- 7
Washington 1 1 1 -- 3
First period--1, Pittsburgh, Coffey 15 (Bourque, Tanti), 6:07. 2, Pittsburgh, Coffey 16 (Gilhen, Jagr), 6:46. 3, Pittsburgh, Trottier 5 (S.Young, Zalapski), 7:48. 4, Pittsburgh, Pederson 5 (Stevens, Mullen), 8:23. 5, Pittsburgh, Zalapski 9 (Mullen), 12:04 (pp). 6, Washington, Hunter 9 (Pivonka, Druce), 14:21 (pp). Penalties-- May, Was (elbowing), 10:15; Murphy, Pit (hooking), 12:24; May, Was (cross-checking), 18:37.
Second period--7, Washington, Leach 8 (Zezel, Druce), 9:31. 8, Pittsburgh, Jagr 10 (Gilhen, Errey), 10:14. Penalties--Tanti, Pit (interference), 5:58; Bourque, Pit (holding), 12:22.
Third period--9, Washington, May 3 (Rouse, Hunter), 5:41. 10, Pittsburgh, Taglianetti 1 (Jagr), 7:15. Penalties--Lalor, Was (cross-checking), 11:37; Errey, Pit, major-game misconduct (high-sticking), 15:30; Hatcher, Was (interference), 16:25.
Shots on goal--Pittsburgh 8-10-4--22. Washington 10-12-5--27. Power-play opportunities--Pittsburgh 1 of 3; Washington 1 of 5. Goalies--Pittsburgh, Barrasso, 9-7-1 (27 shots-24 saves). Washington, Liut, 9-11-1 (5-1), Beaupre (8:28 first, 17-14). A--16,168. Referee--Mark Faucette. Linesmen-- Gord Broseker, Pat Dapuzzo.