PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Having Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr is nice, but not a necessity.
Rookie Johan Hedberg made 34 saves for his first NHL shutout and veteran left wing Kevin Stevens scored his first playoff goal in Pittsburgh since 1995.
"It's a great feeling that we're up 2-1 in games," said Hedberg, whose team hosts Game Four on Wednesday. "Now we enjoy tonight and come back tomorrow."
Lemieux and Jagr, who have 11 scoring titles between them, combined for four points in Saturday's 2-1 win in Washington but had just one in Game Three.
"It was nice to play well defensively and still get three goals," Lemieux said.
He tallied midway through the second period, recording his first home playoff goal as a Penguin since 1994-95 -- his eighth season with Pittsburgh before he was traded to Boston.
The rest of the team played the left wing lock to perfection and held the Capitals to a series of long-range shots. Washington's quality chances were stopped by Hedberg, who played just his 12th NHL game.
"I thought Washington changed to a more active offense," Lemieux said. "They went with a more offensive game plan. Our defense matched up well with them."
Hedberg survived a trio of scares over the first 30 minutes and had his easiest period in the third, when he faced only nine shots. He made a save at the buzzer to preserve the shutout.
"You don't know what to expect at first," said Hedberg, who has yielded only two goals in the series. "Each game, you gain confidence, know more about what to expect."
Ulf Dahlen had a chance to beat Hedberg 4:47 into the game but was tackled by defenseman Bob Boughner before he could get off a shot from in front of the crease.
"Everybody's been playing hard defense," Boughner said. "We have had five guys dropping."
Midway through the first, the Capitals nearly broke a scoreless deadlock when defenseman Brendan Witt's slap shot from the left faceoff circle rang off the right goalpost.
"We had a number of good chances, the best first period of the series so far," Washington coach Ron Wilson said.
"I thought it was pretty even in the first period," Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig added. "Frustrating, but that's the playoffs."
Hedberg also survived Washington's 77-second, two-man power play late in the second period. Moments after the 5-on-3 expired, he caught Sergei Gonchar's slap shot from the high slot in the chest.
"The worst part of our game today was the 5-on-3," Wilson said.
A 27-year-old from Sweden, Hedberg improved to 9-2-1 in his NHL career. After being acquired from San Jose at the trade deadline, he shored up a gaping hole for the Penguins by going 7-1-1 in the regular season.
"Hedberg's been phenomenal," Stevens said. "If we didn't have him playing as he is, it would be very tough."
So far in the playoffs, Hedberg has stopped 77 of 79 shots. Fans at Mellon Arena have begun chanting "Moose" in honor of his minor league team in Manitoba.
"The Manitoba Moose were good to me," said Hedberg, whose light blue Moose mask clashes with Pittsburgh's black and gold color scheme. "If Pittsburgh fans want to give me a moose call, it's fine with me."
Stevens gave Hedberg the only goal he needed 9:23 into the second period. Wayne Primeau beat Adam Oates on a faceoff in the offensive zone, chased down the puck behind the net and fed Stevens in front for a one-timer.
"Very fortunate to get one early," said Stevens, who has 45 goals in 89 career playoff games. "Every play is very, very stressful. This has been very close."
The goal was Stevens' second in as many games and his first at home in the postseason as a Penguin since 1995, when he scored four times in 12 playoff contests.
Since then, however, Stevens has gone from a two-time 50-goal scorer to a floundering veteran. He totaled 67 goals from 1995-96 to 1999-00, playing for three teams and failing to make it to the postseason.
Now, the Caps are floundering. They have two goals -- both by Peter Bondra on the power play -- in three games and are 2-for-12 with the man advantage.
"We need to get confidence in our offense again," said Kolzig, who has allowed only five goals in three games.
Kovalev scored his first playoff goal 4:59 into the third period, beating Kolzig with a wicked snap shot from the right faceoff dot.
Less than three minutes later, Jagr helped seal the win with a beautiful play. He got to a loose puck at the right boards and cut across the bottom of the faceoff circle before deking Kolzig and defenseman Sylvain Cote.
After going from forehand to backhand, Jagr slid a pass between Kolzig and a sliding Cote and through the crease to Hrdina, who was wide-open at the far post.
That gave the Penguins a commanding lead as they moved closer to eliminating the Caps from the postseason for the fifth time in six meetings.