Kunitz hat-trick lifts Penguins past Capitals, Devils bury Islanders

4 February 2013 06:14

The Penguins' third consecutive victory sent them third in the Eastern Conference, just one point off leaders the Boston Bruins although having played one game more.

Kunitz scored goals four, five and six for the Penguins at the Verizon Center, helping his side blow away a pesky Capitals outfit.

Washington were desperately trying to escape bottom spot in East, and were admirable for the opening period and a bit as they arrested two deficits.

A Paul Martin tip-in had Pittsburgh ahead, but Mike Green got Washington on the board just over a minute later with a wrist shot.

Matt Cooke restored the Penguins' buffer with a slap shot as they led 2-1 at the first break, only for John Carlson to restore parity for the Capitals.

But three goals to finish the second period - one from the stick of Kris Letang and the latter two from Kunitz - blew Washington off the ice.

A powerplay goal early in the final stanza got the Capitals back within two, but Kunitz got his hat-trick with eight seconds remaining.

The Montreal Canadiens are level on 12 points with Pittsburgh in East after they got past the Ottawa Senators 2-1 at Bell Centre.

All three goals came early, with the Senators taking the lead inside 100 seconds via a powerplay wrist shot from Jakob Silfverberg.

However, a quick response from David Desharnais 35 seconds later had Montreal level, before Erik Cole's backhand shot in the 12th minute would prove to be the winner for the home side.

Montreal goaltender Carey Price was impressive for the victors, pulling off 32 saves to make it six straight wins from as many starts for the 25-year-old.

The New Jersey Devils are fifth, one point behind Pittsburgh and Montreal, after their 3-0 shutout of the New York Islanders.

It was a late barrage from the Devils that sunk their local rivals, with Steve Bernier striking twice in the space of 70 seconds late in the third period.

David Clarkson added an empty netter in the dying stages to round out the victory.

The Florida Panthers made it back-to-back wins as they fought back from two goals down to beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3.

Trailing 3-1 midway through the second period, goals to George Parros, Peter Mueller and Brian Campbell boosted the Panthers to their third win of the season.

The Panthers are now 13th in East, one point shy of the 11th-placed Sabres.

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