Washington at Pittsburgh Preview: Capitals Look To Build Off Of Friday’s Win In Enemy Territory

Photo: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals head to Western Pennsylvania for the first time in nearly 11 and a half months when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. The teams split two games in Washington earlier this season with the Capitals taking the first one by a score of 6-1 on November 14 before the Penguins answered with a 4-2 victory 26 days later. Action from PPG Paints Arena can be seen on NBC Sports Washington in-market or ESPN+ out-of-market starting at 7 PM ET.

Schedule

The Capitals wrap up a two-game road stretch but have been off since a 5-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Friday. They also start a set of back-to-backs before the All-Star break as the Edmonton Oilers will be awaiting them in Washington for a matchup on Wednesday.

The Penguins conclude a six-game homestand and their slate of games before All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. After winning the first two, the Penguins fell to the Seattle Kraken and Detroit Red Wings beyond regulation and the Los Angeles Kings in 60 minutes on Sunday.

Records

Capitals: 12-5-4 on the road (seventh in NHL)

Penguins: 13-6-4 at home (ninth), won eight straight games at PPG Paints Arena before dropping previous three

How Each Team Is Doing

Capitals: 3-6-2 in their previous 11 games before their “get right” game in Dallas

Penguins: Before recent skid, they won six straight after losing two of three in regulation, which followed a season-long 10-game winning-streak

Standings

Capitals: first wild-card in Eastern Conference/fourth in Metropolitan Division with 57 points; seventh in Eastern Conference in points percentage (.633)

Penguins: third in Metropolitan Division/fifth in Eastern Conference with 61 points; fifth in Eastern Conference in points percentage (.678); one point behind New York Rangers for second in Metropolitan Division (with a game in hand); three behind Carolina Hurricanes (who have three) for first; Capitals and Penguins have each played 45 games

Team Leaders

Capitals

Points: LW Alex Ovechkin, 58
Goals: Ovechkin, 29
Assists: Ovechkin, 29
Plus-Minus: D Nick Jensen, +20
TOI-per-game: D John Carlson, 23:40

Additional Notes: Ovechkin, 36, is currently on a season-long three-game point drought; C Evgeny Kuznetsov has 10 assists and 15 points in his last 16 games; LW Conor Sheary is currently on a four-game point-drought; C Nicklas Backstrom has three goals and seven points in his past five and has tallied a point in nine of his 12 games this season; LW Joe Snively has an assist in each of his first two career NHL games

Penguins

Points: LW Jake Guentzel, 43
Goals: Guentzel, 23
Assists: D Kris Letang, 35
Plus-Minus: Letang, +17
TOI-per-game: Letang, 25:44

Additional Notes: Guentzel, 27, has two goals and three points in his last two games; Letang, 34, has two goals and five points in his last four games; C Evan Rodrigues has two points in his last 12 games with both of them coming in a 6-3 win over 31st-ranked Arizona Coyotes on January 25; C Sidney Crosby has 25 assists and 36 points in his past 26 games and is one of four Penguins averaging at least a point-per-game this season (1.15) with RW Bryan Rust (1.30), Guentzel (1.10), and C Evgeni Malkin (1.09); Rust, 29, has three goals and six points in his last four games; C Jeff Carter has a three-game scoring drought while RW Kasperi Kapanen has a four-game one; Malkin has seven assists and nine points during an eight-game point-streak and four goals and 12 points in 11 games this season

Team Stats

The first graphic shows the possession metrics for the Capitals and Stars entering Tuesday’s game. The Penguins have a slight edge in most categories but the Capitals do a better job of finishing their scoring chances. [Click to enlarge]

The final graphic shows special teams and game averages entering Tuesday. The Capitals do a better job at shot prevention but are slightly below the Penguins, who have the second-best penalty kill in the league and are just .8% off from having the best, in goals-for and goals-against.

Expected Starting Goaltenders

Capitals: Vitek Vanecek, 26
10-6-5
.916 save percentage (tied for 19th in NHL)
2.36 goals-against average (13th)                                                                             Two shutouts

3-1-3, .904 save percentage, 2.98 goals-against average in seven career games vs. PIT, including a 24-save performance on November 14 (lone start against the black and gold this season)
Sixth start in past eight games (.929 save percentage, 2.00 goals-against average over span)

Penguins: Tristan Jarry, 26

23-8-5 (tied for third in wins with Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators)
.925 save percentage (eighth)
2.17 goals-against average (fifth)                                                                              Three shutouts (tied for fourth)

5-3-0, .909 save percentage, 2.87 goals-against average, one shutout in eight career games vs. WSH, including an .873 save percentage and 4.01 goals-against average in two games this season
10th start in past 14 games (.910 save percentage, 2.69 goals-against average over span)

Injuries/Illnesses

Capitals

* LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, expected to miss 35th straight game, indefinite)

* RW TJ Oshie (upper-body, eighth, day-to-day)

* LHD Michal Kempny (COVID-19 protocol, second)

Penguins

* LW Drew O’Connor (collapsed lung, eighth, indefinite)

* LW Jason Zucker (core muscle, sixth, week-to-week)

* G Louis Domingue (foot, sixth, week-to-week)

* C Teddy Blueger (jaw, third, out five-to-seven more weeks)

* LW Danton Heinen (upper-body, second, day-to-day)

Projected Lineups

Capitals

Ovechkin — Kuznetsov — Wilson

Sheary — Backstrom — Daniel Sprong

Snively — Lars Eller — Garnet Hathaway

Carl Hagelin — Nic Dowd — Brett Leason

Martin Fehervary — Carlson

Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen

Trevor Van Riemsdyk — Justin Schultz

Vanecek

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: LHD Dennis Cholowski, LHD Matt Irwin, C Connor McMichael, C Aliaksei Protas

Penguins

Guentzel — Crosby — Rust
Brock McGinn — Malkin — Rodrigues
Zach Aston-Reese – Jeff Carter — Radim Zohorna
Dominik Simon — Brian Boyle — Kasperi Kapanen

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

Jarry

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: RHD Mark Friedman

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
This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Washington at Pittsburgh Preview: Capitals Look To Build Off Of Friday’s Win In Enemy Territory

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.