Hockey players like to talk about having to weather a storm to win a game, especially on the road.

And, if the one the Penguins survived in the first half of the second period in their 3-2 victory Monday night against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center was a Category 5, it's only because there isn't a Category 6. Or a Category 15.

The Penguins had flown here from California a day earlier, but the travel didn't show in their play over the opening 20 minutes, when they built a 2-1 lead.

They didn't look like a team that had flown across the country in the first 10 minutes or so of the second period, either. They looked like one that had been forced to hitchhike. While walking backward.

Of the first 16 shots in that period, 15 were launched at Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff. And the play over the first 10 minutes or so might have been even more lopsided than those numbers suggest.

"They're a desperate team right now, and that was their push," defenseman Deryk Engelland said. "We didn't do a great job getting pucks deep. ... They're out of the playoffs right now, and they have to come out hard."

The Capitals did and managed to get a power-play goal from Nicklas Backstrom at 8:57 to make it 2-2.

But less than four minutes later, Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz swatted a Lee Stempniak rebound past Capitals goalie Jaroslav Halak for what proved to be the winner.

The Penguins got all of their goals from members of the Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Stempniak line. Kunitz scored two, Crosby one. Crosby also contributed a pair of assists, as did Stempniak, and was a force all over the ice.