Washington Capitals (35-12-5) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (32-14-5)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Ilya Samsonov||16-2-1||2.08 / .927 / 1|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Tristan Jarry||17-8-1||2.16 / .929 / 3|
It’s time to witness another chapter in arguably the best rivalry in the National Hockey League; Capitals vs Penguins. For some reason, the schedule-makers wait until the final push for the playoffs to have these two face-off for the first time, and then go on to play one another four times before April. The last time Washington played Pittsburgh, on March 12th, 2019, they lost 5-3. In recent history, this rivalry has all but been split down the middle in wins and losses; through the 2010’s, Washington was 15-15-0 versus Pittsburgh, and is .520 all-time at home. With that being said, the Capitals have six wins in their last 11 meetings, four of which came during the Stanley Cup Playoffs of 2017-18, and we all remember how that season ended (mcubed).
On Friday, the Washington Capitals defeated the Ottawa Senators, 5-3. Ilya Samsonov started in goal for Washington for the first time since January 18th, and as usual, he impressed fans and coaching staff. TJ Oshie gave the Capitals an early lead with a deflection from John Carlson for his 19th goal of the season. At first, it was believed to be Evgeny Kuznetsovs’ goal, but upon further review the goal was credited to Oshie. Thomas Chabot was called for slashing at the 7:26 mark, but the Capitals did not convert on the opportunity. Short of the 11:30 mark, Evgeny Kuznetsov did score, albeit a fast-one that at first, we weren’t sure if the puck even crossed the goal line. His 17th of the season improved Washingtons’ lead to 2-0 heading into the second period. Ilya Samsonov, after facing just five shots, was challenged with a breakaway late in the first, and confidently made the stop. The Capitals earned their second man-advantage of the night just two minutes and 18 seconds into the middle period, but Washington would not convert. Not long after, Garnet Hathaway drew a tripping penalty, and despite having the man-advantage, the Capitals allowed yet another short-handed goal, this time to Chris Tierney. Washington has allowed five short-handed goals in eight games, and leads the league with nine since the start of the season. With one of the Senators’ five goals versus the Sabres coming short-handed, it was of great importance that the Caps’ control that growing problem. Alex Ovechkin re-instated the Caps’ two-goal lead with his 36th goal of the season, and 10th in 5 games. With his 694th career goal, Ovechkin tied Mark Messier on the all-time list. 64 seconds later, Thomas Chabot cut that lead once again. As expected, the Senators would begin to accumulate power plays as Dmitry Orlov was called for hooking. Ottawa’s power play was 6-for-11 heading into tonight’s match, but Washington’s 2nd-ranked penalty kill kept the score, 3-2. To start the third period, Ottawa received a power play as Washington was called for too-many-men. In a twist of fate, this time it was the Capitals that scored short-handed as Carl Hagelin potted his 4th of the season on the breakaway. Unfortunately, Washington was then called for hooking, and the Caps were right back to work on the penalty kill. Artem Anisimov snuck the puck past Samsonov to bring Ottawa right back into the game with another special teams goal. With just under four minutes remaining, Washington was gifted a four-minute double minor for high-sticking against Lars Eller. With Ottawa’s goaltender lifted, Alex Ovechkin potted his second goal of the night to now pass Mark Messier. Ilya Samsonov won his 11th straight start after allowing three goals on 29 shots. As predicted by yours truly, it was confirmed earlier today that Ilya Samsonov WILL get the start for the Capitals!
The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadephia Flyers by a score of 4-3, in overtime, in the Battle of Pennsylvania, also on Friday night. Despite an injury-plagued line-up, Pittsburgh continues to keep winning. The first period was uneventful, aside from a singular Flyers power play. That man-advantage ended with Jakub Voracek scoring his 11th goal of the season with 29 seconds left in the period, giving Philadelphia a short-lived lead. Five seconds short of the four-minute mark in the middle period, Evgeni Malkin scored the game-tying goal with his 16th of the season. Despite missing 14 games due to injury, Malkin leads the Penguins in assists (35) and points (50). Just 10 seconds later, Pittsburgh received their first power play of the evening, and with his 22nd goal of the season and his 5th in eight games, Bryan Rust gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead. Through 36 games, Rust has 22 goals (leads team) and 22 assists for 43 points (HockeyReference). With Travis Konecny in the penalty box for tripping, the Penguins received another power play shortly after their first, and Kris Letang improved his teams’ lead by a score of 3-1. For a fourth goal in the 2nd period, Tyler Pitlick brought the Flyers within one with his 5th of the season. Philadelphia started the third period on the remainder of a late Crosby penalty, but were unable to convert. However, it didn’t take long for Scott Laughton to score anyways, washing out Pittsburghs’ lead. With no additional goals, this game would go to overtime. Sidney Crosby, of course, ended up scoring the game-winning goal for Pittsburgh just 55 seconds into the overtime period. Goaltender Tristan Jarry made 26 saves on 29 shots to win his 17th of the season. Jarry is expected to start for the Penguins versus the Capitals.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled with injuries all season long, but the list is getting shorter. However, the Penguins are still without Brian Dumoulin (DL, ankle), Nick Bjugstad (DL, abdomen), Jake Guentzel (DL, upper body), and Dominik Kahun (DL, concussion).
Coverage of the game begins at 11:30am with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 12:00pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 12:30pm.
HockeyReference. (2020). Bryan Rust Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/r/rustbr01.html.
HockeyReference.(2020). Ilya Samsonov Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/s/samsoil01.html.
Mcubed. (2020). NHL : Series records: Washington Capitals against Pittsburgh Penguins. Retrieved from http://mcubed.net/nhl/wsh/pit.shtml.
TheScore. (2020). Pittsburgh Penguins Stats & News. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/10.