Washington Capitals (40-20-7) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (39-21-6)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||24-14-5||3.16 / .896 / 0|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Matt Murray||19-10-5||2.83 / .900 / 1|
For the third straight game, the Washington Capitals will face-off against another Metropolitan rival. The Pittsburgh Penguins have faltered lately, as they dropped six consecutive games to end the month of February. The Penguins, however, are still 3rd in the Metro, and had the chance to pull within one point of the Flyers in their last game. The last time these two teams played, back on February 23rd, the Capitals defeated Pittsburgh by a score of 5-3.
The Washington Capitals last played on Thursday as they took on the New York Rangers for the second half of a back-to-back. Washington eventually fell to New York 6-5 in overtime to mark a second straight loss. The Caps and Rangers split their first two meetings with one win for each team. The Capitals received the first power play of the evening early in the first, as Pavel Buchnevich went off for holding less than two minutes in. Washingtons’ now-17th ranked power play was 0-for-5 versus the Flyers, and that theme continued versus New York. Against the team that drafted him, Carl Hagelin gave Washington the lead with his 8th of the season. Moments later, the Rangers were gifted their first power play as Nic Dowd was called for tripping. The Rangers’ power play has been very good with 51 power play goals on the season, and Mika Zibanejad made it 52, with his 34th of the season. John Carlson, who is hunting for his first Norris Trophy, continued to just stand in front of the net on the penalty kill, and that has hurt the Caps. Washington went back on the penalty kill as Nic Dowd was called for his second penalty of the period. Luckily the Capitals killed off that penalty and did not allow a goal on the shift immediately following. Washington has been assessed 252 minor penalties in 66 games, the most in the NHL. The second period saw the Rangers take the lead on the delayed penalty as Kuznetsov was about to go off for tripping. Mika Zibanejad got his 2nd goal of the game, and shortly after, Lars Eller did go off for tripping, so Washington went right back on the penalty kill. Just as the Caps killed off the penalty, they would go on the man-advantage with Brendan Lemieux going off for tripping. TJ Oshie would get a number of great shots, but the score remained 2-1. With just under eight minutes remaining in the middle frame, Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first goal as a Capital to tie the game 2-2. Tony DeAngelo wiped out the tie to make it 3-2 with his 14th of the season just about three minutes later. Sixteen seconds after DeAngelo’s goal, Michal Kempny tallied his 4th of the season to make it 3-3. Kempny had not scored since his two-goal showing versus the Canucks back on October 25th during a wild comeback win. For the Caps to emerge winners tonight, the defense was going to need to do something they haven’t done much of; defend. It took just 12 seconds into the third period for Mika Zibanejad to score his 3rd of the game to mark his 4th career hat-trick and re-instate the Rangers lead. Play would continue as 4-on-4 as Jonas Siegenthaler and Brett Howden were called for matching two-minute minors. Alex Ovechkin made it 4-4 with his 46th of the season with just over 10 minutes left in the game. A heavy hit by Lars Eller ended up giving the Rangers a late power play as he went off for roughing. Just as the Caps killed off the Eller penalty, John Carlson was called for cross-checking. Lars Eller then went off again for high-sticking for two of the remaining three minutes. It was unlikely that Washington would be able to kill off six minutes of back-to-back-to-back penalties, and they didn’t. Mika Zibanejad tallied his 4th of the night to seal the win for the Rangers. Todd Reirden elected to pull Samsonov for the extra skater and with 42.9 seconds remaining, Alex Ovechkin scored his 2nd of the game to tie the game, 5-5. The Caps were guaranteed at least one point in the standings to keep themselves first in the division, as the game went to overtime. Washington eventually fall in overtime, as Zibanejad potted his 5th of the game, and Ilya Samsonov dropped his 5th straight start, after allowing six goals on 39 shots. Braden Holtby will start against the Penguins.
The Pittsburgh Penguins also played on Thursday, where they defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 4-2. Short of the 8-minute mark of the first, Patric Hornqvist put the Pens on the board with his 16th of the season. Nine minutes and one second in, Jake McCabe tied the game with his 3rd of the season, a short-handed goal, as Pittsburgh was on the power play. The Penguins took back their lead as Marcus Pettersson tallied his 2nd at the 12:26 mark. With less than two minutes remaining in the first, the Pens went on the penalty kill, and were successful. At the 12:31 mark of the second, Johan Larsson was called for goaltender interference, and 61 seconds later, Patric Hornqvist made it 3-1 for Pittsburgh. Heading into the third and final frame, the Penguins led by two. Early in the third, however, Marcus Johansson brought the Sabres within one with his 9th of the season. Sidney Crosby made it 4-2 at the 6:02 mark with his 15th of the season. The Sabres vacated their net in favor of the extra skater, but the Penguins would end up the winner of this one. Pittsburgh is 23-6-4 at home, and their 19th ranked power play overall is tied for 9th most power play goals at home with 25. Matt Murray allowed just two goals on 30 shots to tally his 19th win of the season. Murray is confirmed to get the start for Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are without Dominik Simon (OUT, upper body), Jake Guentzel (DL, upper body), Zach Aston-Reese (OUT, lower body), and Anthony Angello (OUT, upper body).
Coverage of the game begins at 12:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 12:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 1:00pm.
TheScore. (2020). Pittsburgh Penguins Stats & News. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/10.
TheScore. (2020). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.