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Capitals unable to halt march of the Penguins

(Reuters) - The free-scoring Pittsburgh Penguins unleashed a five-goal blitz in the second period to overcome the Washington Capitals 5-2 on Thursday, extending their winning streak to five games.

The Penguins had trailed 1-0 after the first period, Mike Ribeiro giving the visitors the lead on four minutes, but came alive in the second to thrash the Capitals for the second time in five days and register their 23rd goal in the winning run.

Evgeni Malkin, Pascal Dupuis, James Neal, Matt Cooke and Sidney Crosby all found the back of the net as the Penguins (8-3-0) moved to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

Crosby and Malkin each added two assists to take their season tally to 12, leaving them tied for second in the league.

Malkin crashed home the equalizing goal seven minutes into the second period before Dupuis expertly put away a bouncing puck past goaltender Michal Neuvirth in the 13th minute to give Pittsburgh the lead.

On falling behind, the Capitals changed their goalie but Braden Holtby was given little protection and allowed three goals in a three-minute stretch late in a period that saw Pittsburgh bombard Washington's goal with 18 shots.

"We have been playing really well lately and everything is coming together right now. The powerplay is clicking, our best players are our best players and it's all going really well," Penguins winger Zach Boychuk told reporters.

"Right now we are getting a lot of scoring chances and we're buzzing, so I feel lucky to be playing on that line right now.

"We are definitely in the right mental zone. Everyone is contributing, we're getting good defensive plays at the right time. We're getting big goals and obviously Sid (Crosby) is making everyone around him a lot better."

Alex Ovechkin scored a powerplay goal for Washington (2-8-1) in the third period but it was merely a consolation marker for the Capitals, who also lost 6-3 to the Penguins on Sunday and have the worst record in the NHL.

(Reporting by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)

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