Capitals And Penguins Fight For Playoff Spot On Saturday Night

The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins conclude their three-game season series Saturday night at PPG Paints Arena, with puck drop set for 8 p.m. on ABC and ESPN+.

Washington is 1-1-0 versus Pittsburgh this season and have won three-straight games at PPG Paints Arena. Pittsburgh won 4-1 on Nov. 9 and the Caps took a 3-2 shootout victory on Jan. 26. Capitals defenseman John Carlson missed both of those prior games.

The Penguins hold a four-point lead over the Capitals and have a game in hand. However, the Pens are in a bit of a tailspin; they’ve dropped five of their last six games, including each of their last two at home.

The Capitals have a record of 106-106-16-14 all-time vs. Pittsburgh and are 8-5-4 in their last 17 games against the Penguins, dating back to the 2019-20 season. In addition, Washington has won three-straight games at PPG Paints Arena.


The basic season stats for the Capitals and Penguins heading into Saturday night’s tilt in Pittsburgh [Click to enlarge].

The Penguins are generating more shots per game but also giving up more shots against per game. In addition, the Penguins actually have a negative goal differential for the season. The Capitals also hold the edge in special teams.


The Penguins hold a slight edge in all of the basic possession metrics for the season.  [Click to enlarge].

The following graph plots the Capitals possession metrics for each of the previous two tilts with the Penguins. [Click to enlarge]

[The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, MoneyPuck and the NoVa Caps Advanced Analytics Model (NCAAM). If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary]

LINEUPS: CAPITALS (34-31-8) at PENGUINS (35-27-10) 

Capitals projected lineup

Alex OvechkinDylan StromeTom Wilson
Aliaksei ProtasNicklas BackstromT.J. Oshie
Anthony ManthaEvgeny KuznetsovCraig Smith
Nicolas Aube-KubelNic DowdConor Sheary

Martin FehervaryJohn Carlson
Rasmus SandinNick Jensen
Alexander AlexeyevTrevor van Riemsdyk

Darcy Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Matt Irwin

Sonny Milano did not make the trip to Pittsburgh. He’s out a week with an upper body injury, possibly longer, per team. Milano took a big hit from Connor Murphy on Thursday, but finished the game.

Penguins projected lineup  

Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Jason ZuckerEvgeni MalkinRickard Rakell
Danton HeinenRyan PoehlingMikael Granlund
Drew O’ConnorJeff CarterJosh Archibald

Pierre-Olivier JosephKris Letang
Brian DumoulinChad Ruhwedel
Mark FriedmanTaylor Fedun

Casey DeSmith
Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Dustin Tokarski, Alex Nylander

Injured: Nick Bonino (lacerated kidney), Dmitry Kulikov (lower body), Jeff Petry (upper body), Marcus Pettersson (lower body), Jan Rutta (lower body)

LATEST LINES – (Spread/Monelyline/Over/Under)

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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3 Responses to Capitals And Penguins Fight For Playoff Spot On Saturday Night

  1. Anonymous says:

    How was that about Fehervary not being ready for 1-st? We are 15 minutes in first period and it is more than clear there is no other (better) candidate.

    2 shifts of Sandin-Carlson was enough for me to realize that is a big NO! Rasmus can not be paired with offensive D-man that’s clear. That is too risky.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      We get it, you are a Martin Fehervary fan. I like him as well, followed his career since HV-71 days.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am mostly NOT a Fan of Caps fans, who always find someone to critisize.

        Who will critisize whole organization for not giving chance for youngsters and when they do then pretend they are the problem. Fans who pretend they are supposed to do all and not seine what their older colleagues do!

        I am not a Fan of people pretending someone is doing it wrong and not being able to give reasons (other than some number which everyone watching it knows is not a good representation) and I am waiting for one here !

        I am not a Fan of people making someone good Defenseman because he scored some goals and pretending it solved all= applied also to Gustafson.

        I stand by point that Alexyev and Fehervary are the smallest problem of this Organisation and both very good players already. And I may be strange but I prefer D-man who do what is needed for team but firstly always their job!
        So I am beyond pissed to see people doubting AA or to see Fehervary being blamed for something always while no one can explain what!

        Yesterday’s game was a very good example of fact that all that against MF is just bias.

        At beginning of season ? Ok he had slower start….but now ? Are we watching diferent Caps game ?

        So yeah I am A MF fan because I am fan of good responsible defenseman and a Caps fan and unlike others I am able to recognize that we need him on that blue like more than anyone except of John !

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