The Pittsburgh Penguins look to make it ten straight victories when they take on the rival Washington Capitals tonight in Pittsburgh. The Penguins are riding the momentum of their winning streak, which claimed the Boston Bruins Sunday afternoon. The Capitals are not riding a streak, as they are 5-5-0 in their last ten games, most recently defeating the Buffalo Sabres, 5-3, Sunday night.
When and where: Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh, PA); 7:30 pm/est (Root Sports, NBC Sports Network, TSN2, CSN-DC)
Season series: Penguins lead 2-0
Last meeting: The Penguins and Capitals last met back on February 7, also in Pittsburgh. That night, Pittsburgh scored five goals in the second period to spark a 5-2 victory. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby each contributed three points, and James Neal chipped in with two of his own. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped twenty-three and twenty-five shots to pick up his fifth win of the season.
Keys to the game:
1. Battle of power plays: Even with all of their struggles, the Capitals come into Pittsburgh with the league’s third-best power play. The Penguins are no slouches themselves; sitting fourth in power play efficiency. The team that can take advantage of their power play opportunities will definitely have the edge in this contest.
2. Matchup of first lines: The Penguins could possibly have the best top line in the NHL with Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and Pascal Dupuis. The Capitals don’t have a bad top line either with Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alex Ovechkin. We all know what Ovechkin brings to the table, but don’t sleep on Backstrom either. The twenty-five year old Swedish product is second on the Capitals in points with twenty-four, but consider this, he only has three goals on the season. Do the math, he benefits from Ovechkin scoring goals. So, by stopping Backstrom, you at least have a better chance at slowing Ovechkin.
Penguins: C Evgeni Malkin (upper body), D Kris Letang (lower body)
Capitals: D Mike Green (groin), D John Erskine (upper body), D Tom Poti (back), D Tomas Kundratek (leg)
-Brooks Laich and Dmitry Orlov will be making their season debuts tonight for the Capitals.
-Evgeni Malkin participated in the Penguins morning skate, but will not play tonight. Malkin is aiming for his return to take place on Friday on Long Island against the New York Islanders.
Penguins (via penguins.nhl.com)
14 Chris Kunitz (A)-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-9 Pascal Dupuis
19 Beau Bennett-16 Brandon Sutter-18 James Neal
24 Matt Cooke-15 Dustin Jeffrey-48 Tyler Kennedy
10 Tanner Glass-46 Joe Vitale-27 Craig Adams
44 Brooks Orpik (A)-7 Paul Martin
2 Matt Niskanen-4 Mark Eaton
47 Simon Despres-5 Deryk Engelland
29 Marc-Andre Fleury (15-5-0, .909 Save %, 2.45 GAA)
**If Matt Cooke is unable to play, the Penguins will go with seven defensemen.**
Capitals (via @kcarrera)
90 Marcus Johansson-19 Nicklas Backstrom (A)-8 Alex Ovechkin (C)
16 Eric Fehr-9 Mike Ribeiro-20 Troy Brouwer
25 Jason Chimera-85 Mathieu Perreault-42 Joel Ward
21 Brooks Laich (A)-83 Jay Beagle-26 Matt Hendricks
27 Karl Alzner-61 Steven Oleksy
38 Jack Hillen-74 John Carlson
55 Jeff Schultz-81 Dmitry Orlov
70 Braden Holtby (10-9-0, .908 Save %, 2.97 GAA)