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Preview: Washington Capitals Look To Pad Lead In Standings, End Skid In Final Game vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

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Photo: WTOP

The Washington Capitals will close out their season series with the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (7 PM ET, Monumental Sports Network in-market, EPSN+ out-of-market).

After Pittsburgh shut Washington out, 4-0, on opening night, Washington won 4-3 on January 2 and 6-0 on March 7 in the Steel City. Washington scored four unanswered goals before Pittsburgh responded with three straight of their own prior to Washington’s blowout win last month after the first game between the two teams. Washington is 10-7-4 (.585 points percentage) vs. Pittsburgh in the 2020s.

Schedule

Pittsburgh: ends four-game Metropolitan Division road trip (2-0-1 so far) and continues stretch where they go on the road for eight of nine (4-2-2)

Washington: continues stretch where they host seven of 10 games (3-3-1) after a 6-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, open set of back-to-backs with a trip to Raleigh to see the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday looming

How Each Team Is Doing

Pittsburgh: six-game point-streak (4-0-2) after going 3-9-1 over their previous 13

Washington: has lost three straight (0-2-1) since three-game winning-streak, stretch where they went 14-7-2 wrapped up

Standings

Pittsburgh: 34-30-11 (.527 points percentage — sixth in Metropolitan Division, 11th in Eastern Conference); three points behind Washington (who have a game in hand) for final wild-card spot and four back of Philadelphia Flyers (with one) for third place in Metropolitan Division; also trailing Detroit Red Wings (with both teams having played 75 games) by three, New York Islanders (75) by two in wild-card standings; lead Buffalo Sabres (with one) by two and New Jersey Devils (75) by three

Washington: 36-28-10 (.554 points percentage — third in Metropolitan Division, seventh in Eastern Conference)

Team Leaders

Crosby is tied for 12th in the NHL in goals and 13th in points. Letang and Carlson both rank among the league’s top-12 in time-on-ice.

Team Statistics

Both Pittsburgh and Washington are among the NHL’s worst-11 in goals. Pittsburgh’s power-play is better than only the Columbus Blue Jackets (14.4%) and Philadelphia (12.9%). Pittsburgh, who is the best faceoff team, ranks sixth in shots while Washington’s average bests only the San Jose Sharks (25.5).

Washington entered Wednesday 26th in Corsi, 25th in expected goals, 24th in scoring chances, and 25th in save percentage. Both teams shoot below the NHL average.

Expected Goalie Matchup

Nedeljkovic bests Kuemper, who made 32 saves in Washington’s 4-3 win at PPG Paints Arena in January, in every stat.

Injuries/Illnesses/Suspensions

Pittsburgh

  • LW Matt Nieto (knee)
  • C Jansen Harkins (hand)
  • C Noel Acciari (lower-body)

Washington

  • D Ethan Bear (NHLPA players assistance program)
  • C Nicklas Backstrom (hip)
  • RW T.J. Oshie (undisclosed)

Projected Lines

Pittsburgh

Reilly Smith — Crosby — Bryan Rust
Michael Bunting — Evgeni Malkin — Rickard Rakell
Drew O’Connor — Lars Eller — Valtteri Puustinen
Jesse Puljujarvi — Jeff Carter — Emil Bemstrom

Pierre-Olivier Joseph — Letang
Marcus Pettersson — Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea — Jack St. Ivany

Nedeljkovic
Tristan Jarry

Scratched: D Ryan Graves, D John Ludvig

Washington

Ovechkin — Connor McMichael — Ivan Miroshnichenko
Sonny Milano — Strome — Tom Wilson
Max Pacioretty — Hendrix Lapierre — Aliaksei Protas
Beck Malenstyn — Nic Dowd — Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Martin Fehervary — Carlson
Rasmus Sandin — Nick Jensen
Alexander Alexeyev — Trevor Van Riemsdyk

Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: RW Matthew Phillips, D Vinny Iorio

Betting Odds (BetMGM)

Pittsburgh: -110, Washington: -110

Over-under: 6 (-105 over, -115 under)

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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