Pittsburgh at Washington Preview: Capitals Host Penguins For Final Time This Regular Season

Photo: John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second and final time this season on Friday night. The Capitals pounded the Penguins by a score of 6-1 on November 14 in the first meeting of the season between the two teams. Action from Capital One Arena can be streamed on ESPN+ beginning at 7 PM ET.

Schedule

The Capitals wrap up a season-long four-game homestand on Thursday, which they are 2-0-1 on so far. They have been off since a 4-3 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. The Capitals start a set of back-to-backs and visit the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

The Penguins’ five-game road trip shifts East after going 2-1-1 in the Pacific Northwestern portion. Like the Capitals, the Penguins have been off since a 6-1 victory at the Seattle Kraken on Monday and start a set of back-to-backs with the Ducks waiting for them in Pittsburgh.

Records

Capitals: 9-1-4 at home this season, .786 points percentage (third in NHL), points in seven straight at home (6-0-1)

Penguins: 7-3-3 on the road, .654 points percentage (fifth), 6-1-1 on the road since visiting Washington in mid-November

How Each Team Is Doing

Capitals: 11-2-2 since a three-game losing-streak (0-2-1) to begin November and are 5-1-1 in their past seven games

Penguins: 7-2-1 since losing three straight and going 2-6-2 from October 26-November 16

Standings

Capitals: 16-4-6 (one point ahead of New York Rangers, who have one game in hand on the Capitals, and three ahead of Carolina Hurricanes, who will have one entering Friday, for first in Metropolitan Division; tied for NHL-lead with Florida Panthers, who have a game in hand on Capitals, and Toronto Maple Leafs, who have played one more game), .731 points percentage (fourth) but second in Metropolitan Division behind Rangers (.740)

Penguins: 12-8-5 (tied with Detroit Red Wings for first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference but will enter Friday with a game in hand; three points up on Boston Bruins but Bruins will enter Friday with two games in hand), .580 points percentage (eighth in Eastern Conference, tied for 16th in NHL,), seven points behind Carolina Hurricanes for third in Metropolitan Division with each team having played 25 games by end of Thursday’s slate of league action

Team Leaders

Capitals

Points: LW Alex Ovechkin, 41 (third in NHL behind Edmonton Oilers Cs Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid — each with 43)

Goals: Ovechkin, 20 (one behind Draisaitl for NHL lead)

Assists: Ovechkin, 21 (tied for seventh); C Evgeny Kuznetsov one behind

Plus-Minus: D Nick Jensen, +20 (third in NHL); Ovechkin/D Dmitry Orlov, +19 (tied for fourth); RW Tom Wilson, +16 (tied for eighth) all among NHL’s top-ten

TOI-per-game: D John Carlson, 23:12

Additional Notes: Capitals are 1-0-2 at home against top-five road teams in the NHL this season (.667 points percentage); LW Carl Hagelin has points in three of his last four games (one goal, three points); Kuznetsov has just one assist in his last five games; Ovechkin has one goal and four points during three-game point-streak and earned at least a point in eight his last nine (eight goals, 15 points)

Penguins

Points: LW Jake Guentzel, 27 (tied for 12th in NHL)

Goals: Guentzel, 15 (tied for seventh)

Assists: D Kris Letang, 16

Plus-Minus: D Marcus Pettersson, +10

TOI-per-game: Letang, 25:50

Additional Notes: C Sidney Crosby is averaging a point-per-game with 13 in 13 this season; Letang has six assists during a four-game assist-streak; RW Kasperi Kapanen has gone scoreless in four straight outings

Team Stats

Possession and Goaltending Metrics

The first graphic presents the possession metrics for the Penguins and Capitals entering Friday’s game.

The Penguins have the better baseline possession metrics, with the Capitals generating more high-danger chances. The Capitals are also outperforming in expected goals for and against.

The next graph presents the current save percentage, goals against average and goals against differentials for all Metropolitan Division goaltenders in all situations with more than 100 minutes of ice time.

The next graph presents the same information but for five-on-five situations.

Special Teams, Faceoffs and Shots

The final graph plots the specials teams, goals scored and face-off statistics for the Penguins and Capitals.

Expected Starting Goaltenders

Penguins: Tristan Jarry, 26

* 11-5-4 record this season

* .934 save percentage (tied for fifth)

* 1.92 goals-against average (tied for third)

* three shutouts (tied for second)

* 4-3-0, .905 save percentage, 3.00 goals-against average, one shutout in seven career games vs. Capitals, including a 26-save performance on November 14 (.813 save percentage)

* made 22 saves in Penguins’ 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, his last appearance

Capitals: Ilya Samsonov, 24

* 11-1-1 record

* .916 save percentage (25th)

* 2.42 goals-against average (tied for 17th)

* three shutouts (tied for second)

* 0-2-1, .884 save percentage, 3.27 goals-against average in three career games vs. PIT

* made 31 saves in Monday’s win vs. Ducks

* third straight start

* eighth start in last 10 games

Injuries/Illnesses

Capitals

* Hagelin (illness, could miss first game)

* C Nicklas Backstrom (hip, expected to miss 27th straight game, week-to-week)

* LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, 17th, indefinite)

* C Nic Dowd (COVID-19 protocol, third)

* RW Garnet Hathaway (COVID-19 protocol, second)

* RHD Trevor Van Riemsdyk (COVID-19 protocol, third)

Penguins

* Guentzel (upper-body, first, week-to-week)

* RW Bryan Rust (lower-body, seventh, week-to-week)

* C Evgeni Malkin (knee, 26th, month-to-month)

Projected Lineups

Capitals

Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Conor Sheary — Lars Eller — Daniel Sprong
Michael Sgarbossa — Connor McMichael — T.J. Oshie
Beck Malenstyn — Aliaksei Protas — Brett Leason

Martin Fehervary — John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin —  Justin Schultz

Ilya Samsonov

Vitek Vanecek

Scratched: LHD Dennis Cholowski

Penguins

Evan Rodrigues — Sidney Crosby — Kasperi Kapanen
Jason Zucker — Jeff Carter — Danton Heinen
Zach Aston-Reese — Teddy Blueger — Brock McGinn
Dominik Simon — Drew O’Connor — Sam Lafferty

Brian Dumoulin — Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson — John Marino
Mike Matheson — Chad Ruhwedel

Tristan Jarry

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: RHD Mark Friedman, C Brian Boyle

Game Notes

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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