Vitek Vanecek Will Start, Nick Jensen Possible Tonight Against Penguins: News From Capitals’ Optional Morning Skate From Pittsburgh


The Washington Capitals held an optional morning skate at PPG Paints Arena this morning in Pittsburgh. They face the Penguins tonight with puck drop set for just after 7:00 PM.

Head coach Peter Laviolette met with the media following the optional skate. He said that Vitek Vanecek will start in goal and Nick Jensen is possible to return.

The Capitals enter tonight’s tilt trailing the Penguins by four standings points. The Penguins are 6-2-2 and the Capitals 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.

Dirty Birds

The Capitals face the Penguins tonight for the third time this season and the first time at PPG Paints Arena. The Capitals have split the season series 1-1 and have outscored Pittsburgh 8-5. The Capitals have earned points in seven of their last 10 games against Pittsburgh (3-3-4).

Among active players, Alex Ovechkin’s 36 goals against the Penguins rank first and are tied for 15th in NHL history. Additionally, no active player with at least 25 games played against Pittsburgh has a higher points per game rate than Nicklas Backstrom (1.11).
Ovechkin met with the media following the team’s optional morning skate.

Here are the basic pre-game stats for tonight’s game:

You can read our full Capitals at Penguins game preview here:

Road Work

With the Capitals 5-0 win against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Friday, Washington improved to 12-5-4 on the road this season, good for a .667 points percentage, which ranks fifth in the NHL. Washington’s 2.52 allowed goals per game on the road ranks third in the NHL, while their 3.24 goals per game rate ranks 10th.

The Capitals are one of five teams to rank in the top-10 in both respective categories. Over the last two seasons, the Capitals’ .694 road points percentage ranks first (31-12-6 record). Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 24 points (13g, 11a) in 21 road games this season, while Backstrom has recorded seven points (2g, 5a) in five road games upon his return from injury. Additionally, Ovechkin’s 383 career goals on the road are the second most in NHL history, only trailing Wayne Gretzky (402).

Strength Of Schedule

Of the top four teams in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals have faced the toughest schedule to date, based on average points percentage of opposition, while the Carolina Hurricanes have faced the easiest:

TEAM/Opp Pts%
Hurricanes  .570
Capitals  .604
Penguins  .586
Rangers .593

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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