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Associated Press
12/11/2006 10:54:02 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby grabbed the headlines before Evgeni Malkin stole the show.

The much-anticipated matchup of last season's top two rookies lived up to the hype, but Malkin - this year's leading rookie - was the star Monday night.

He notched a goal and assisted on one by Crosby in regulation, then scored the decisive goal in the shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins erased a four-goal deficit and beat the Washington Capitals 5-4.

Erik Christensen also scored in the shootout for Pittsburgh, 2-3-1 in the past six games.

Capitals captain Chris Clark had two goals and two assist for the Capitals, who led 4-0 in the second period but couldn't hold on for their sixth win in seven games.

The Penguins rallied with goals in the second from Maxime Talbot, Christensen and Crosby, who scored for the fourth straight game.

Malkin tied it 3:20 into the third.

Ovechkin had the Capitals' only goal in the shootout against Penguins' youngster Marc-Andre Fleury, who turned aside Mike Green and Chris Clark after making 29 saves through overtime.

Crosby, second to Ovechkin last season for rookie of the year honours, leads the Penguins with 14 goals and 41 points. He assisted on Malkin's goal but failed to convert in the shootout.

Crosby leads all-star voting in the Eastern Conference, while Ovechkin is second among forwards.

The Penguins wore their helmets backward - rally style - during the shootout, and it paid off as they played their third straight overtime game.

Malkin got the Penguins there this time when he slipped a backhand shot past goalie Olie Kolzig while sprawling chest first on the ice in front of the net.

The Capitals made it 4-0 on a short-handed goal by Boyd Gordon, who skated uncontested to the net and beat Fleury to the gloveside.

That set the stage for Pittsburgh's rally.

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