The Washington Capitals have been nothing but impressive over their last few games. Riding a six-game winning streak, the Capitals look to remain undefeated in the new year, and Alex Ovechkin is one point away from hitting 1,000 NHL career points.
They face Pittsburgh, who is on their own five-game winning streak. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin riding hot streaks and vying for the league lead in points, they will give the Capitals one of their toughest match-ups to date.
Both teams have nearly identical records and are both within three points of taking the Metropolitan Division lead. Considering how similar these teams are, this matchup will surely be a high-scoring, two-sided affair.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center- 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – NBCSN
2016-17 Season Series:
Oct. 13- Capitals 2 Penguins 3 (SO)
Nov. 16- Penguins 1 Capitals 7
Washington Capitals – 26-9-5, 57 Points
Home Record: 15-5-1
Hot Players: Justin Williams, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Jakub Vrana-Lars Eller-Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Nate Schmidt
Pittsburgh Penguins – 26-8-5, 57 Points
Away Record: 8-6-3
Hot Players: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel
Key Injuries: Daniel Sprong, Brian Dumoulin
Conor Sheary-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin-Evgeni Malkin-Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz-Nick Bonino-Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson-Matt Cullen-Eric Fehr
Trevor Daley-Kris Letang
Ian Cole-Justin Schultz
Olli Maatta-Steven Oleksy
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]With Alex Ovechkin on the verge of 1,000 career points, the Capitals have had multiple milestones over the past few weeks. Barry Trotz recently coached his 1400th NHL game Monday against Montreal and will tie for seventh in all-time games coached Wednesday against Pittsburgh. Nicklas Backstrom netted his 500th career assist in Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Pittsbrugh is getting scoring from many of its top-six forwards who appear to be finding their stride. Sidney Crosby not only leads the NHL with 26 goals but has points in four of his last five games. Phil Kessel is a threat, too, and is riding an impressive five-game point streak. Evgeni Malkin and Conor Sheary are just two more players who’ve been impressive of late.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]Pittsburgh has a power-play goal in four of their last five games, but Washington could stop them in their tracks, as their penalty kill ranks as the third-best in the NHL. A lot of Pittsburgh’s power-play success can be attributed not only to Crosby but Justin Schultz, who acts as a puck-moving quarterback from the point. Jay Beagle and T.J. Oshie work wonders on the penalty kill, and with Oshie returning to the lineup, he can help shut down Pittsburgh’s stacked special teams unit.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]A red-hot Braden Holtby will get the start between the pipes again for Washington. He has two shutouts and has only allowed one goal through his last three starts. Marc-Andre Fleury gets the nod for Pittsburgh, but it appears that Matt Murray will back up and is nearing a return from injury.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.