After going one-for-five on the power-play in their 5-3 win at the Ottawa Senators on Friday night, the Washington Capitals made some more changes to the unit as they put center Nicklas Backstrom on the left side and captain Alex Ovechkin on the right. The Capitals’ 20.5% power-play efficiency is currently tied with the Minnesota Wild for 12th in the NHL this season, arguably a disappointment considering all of the talent they boast offensively. Head coach Todd Reirden said that he was trying some different looks with the unit struggling. The Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon (12:30 PM ET, NBC).
After making 25 saves against the Senators, goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who has won 11 straight appearances, will start against the Penguins on Sunday. Reirden said “I think right now we need both goalies. There are a lot of games coming up here after the all-star break, there always is, and then we went Braden [Holtby] for two games in a row and now we will go with [Samsonov] for two games in a row and see how that goes.”
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby spoke of his relationship with Ovechkin at the team’s practice in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Crosby on relationship w/ Ovechkin: “It’s cordial and respectful. We’re not best buddies, but at the same time, I think I respect the way he plays and what he’s doing. Can relate to the pressure and expectations that come with the position that he was in coming into the League.”
— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) February 1, 2020
Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist missed practice on Saturday as he was getting his tooth fixed at the dentist but will likely be fine to suit up tomorrow afternoon. Forward Zach Aston-Reese took his spot on the top power-play unit.
Forwards Dominik Kahun, who has missed the last two games (concussion), and Nick Bjugstad, who has not played since November 15 (core muscle surgery), both were not on the ice for the Penguins’ practice and will likely not return against the Capitals.
Capitals’ Lines vs. Penguins
Capitals practice lines ahead of Sunday’s game vs Penguins:
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) February 1, 2020
CAPS TODAY: In a night where the Capitals tied a NHL record for the least amount of games for 20 road wins, three different Capitals joined NHL and franchise marks. More info on the Caps at https://t.co/HecIC0ECg1 pic.twitter.com/q8HShWXqwB
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 1, 2020
By Harrison Brown