Washington coach Dale Hunter suffered his second successive loss since taking the reins at the struggling Capitals as Pittsburgh moved to the top of the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win at the Verizon Center on Thursday.
The Penguins, who also have the best record in the NHL, sent the Capitals to their fourth consecutive defeat.
The marquee match-up between Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin fizzled, with neither player recording a point.
You play to win, Crosby told reporters. I had a few chances but they kept a pretty tight seal on things and when teams do that, you have to capitalize and I, unfortunately, didn't but we did a good job and played a good game.
Craig Adams opened the scoring for Pittsburgh five minutes into the game, and Jason Chimera responded for Washington early in the second period.
Chris Kunitz broke the tie early in the third period, muscling his way through two Washington defenders before snapping a shot past Capitals goalie Tomas Vokoun.
The Penguins defense preserved the one-goal lead by limiting Washington to just two shots in the final period and 17 in the game.
We've got to do a better job of getting pucks to the net. We had a lot of cycle time, but didn't get pucks to the net, said Chimera. They kind of threw everything on the net. That's why they had so many shots. We kind of waited for perfect plays.