Sidney Crosby can’t be expected to nail it every time, you know.

On this occasion, he had to settle for being half-right.

And undoubtedly was thrilled about it.

Just hours before the Penguins’ 4-0 victory against Washington at the Verizon Center Wednesday night, Crosby was talking about his team’s rivalry with the Capitals and pointing out that both clubs could reasonably be expected to elevate their games when they meet.

“This matchup always brings out the best in both sides,” he said. “Everyone kind of gets up for these games.

“They’re a rival and when you get in those games, you get excited.”

But while the Capitals did seem to be genuinely excited to face the Penguins for the first time since both were placed in the Metropolitan Division, it didn’t show in their play.

The Penguins had things largely their way throughout the game, as evidenced by their 40-18 advantage in shots on goal.

As usually happens when the Penguins and Capitals are about to collide, the talk mostly focused on Crosby and Washington winger Alex Ovechkin, two of the game’s most dynamic offensive talents.

Not an original storyline, to be sure, but one of which most people never seem to tire.

“It’s been built up as a rivalry since we started playing against each other,” Crosby said. “It’s always been there, no matter where the teams were or where we were individually.”

This time, Crosby earned a unanimous decision, earning a goal and an assist while Ovechkin was shut out.

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had an excellent showing, as well. He was a presence throughout the game and set up two goals despite failing to score a goal for the 15th game in a row.

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t get mentioned much in the days leading up to the game, but it was tough to ignore him while it was unfolding.

He turned aside 18 shots to record his second shutout of the season and 25th in the NHL as the Penguins held Washington to three or fewer goals for the 12th consecutive time.

The victory was the second in a row for the Penguins (14-8) and allowed them to fend off the Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan.

The game was the first for the Penguins and Washington as division rivals since Mar. 28, 1993, when both were members of the Patrick.

Satisfying as the victory was for the Penguins, it wasn’t much of a novelty. They are 9-3-2 in their past 14 games in Washington.

Coincidentally enough, that is the same as Fleury’s all-time record at the Verizon Center.

Defenseman Paul Martin put the Penguins in front to stay 6:38 of the opening period, when he wristed a shot past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby from the right point for his second of the season.

The only assist went to Crosby, who won a faceoff against Capitals center Brooks Laich in the right circle and got the puck back to Martin.