PITTSBURGH PENGUINS vs WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Tuesday, March 19 — 7:30 PM — Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA (NBC Sports Network)
This is not how this season was supposed to go for the Washington Capitals. During the offseason, general manager George McPhee hired first-year head coach and former Capital Adam Oates to replace Dale Hunter, who chose to return to his coaching post with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Among his first acts as head coach was to make captain Alex Ovechkin more of a two-way player and a more diversified playmaker. This move has resulted in a frustrating season for Ovechkin and the team, as his point production through 28 games is a mere 11 goals and 12 assists, good for third on the Capitals’ roster.
Tonight marks the third and final meeting between Pittsburgh and Washington. The previous two games have both resulted in victory for the Penguins, outscoring the Capitals 11-5.
“Right now they’re a good team that’s playing very good, very cocky”
— Adam Oates
Pittsburgh: PP (24.1%, 4th) PK (79.6%, 22nd)
Washington: PP (24.5%, 3rd) PK (76.2%, 29th)
- The Penguins have won nine straight games. A win tonight will make them one short of Chicago’s 11 wins for the season’s longest winning streak.
- In the past five games, the Penguins have outscored their opponents 17-5.
- After a slow start at home, the Penguins are 10-4-0 at Consol Energy Center.
- The Capitals are 4-8-1 on the road this season.
- Braden Holtby is likely to start in net for the Capitals. He is 10-9 on the season with a 2.97 GAA and a .908 Sv %
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Penguins: Beau Bennett
2G, 5A, 7P
Despite being without Evgeni Malkin, Beau Bennett is looking more comfortable than ever playing alongside Dustin Jeffrey and James Neal. He has tallied five points during the Penguins’ nine-game winning streak.
Capitals: Mike Ribeiro
10G, 21A, 31 P, -1, 46 PIM
Mike Ribeiro has been a rare bright spot for the Capitals this season, averaging just over a point a game through 28 appearances.
PROBABLE CAPITALS LINES
The Captals get forward Brooks Laich back tonight, which is a big boost to a team that has lacked a leadership identity so far this season.
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Eric Fehr – Mike Ribeiro – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Mathieu Perreault – Joel Ward
Brooks Laich – Jay Beagle – Matt Hendricks
Karl Alzner – Steve Oleksy
Jack Hillen – John Carlson
Jeff Schultz – Dmitry Orlov
PROBABLE PENGUINS LINES
Matt Cooke did not take the morning skate and has been described as a game time decision. Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang have been ruled out for tonight’s game. If Cooke is unable to play tonight, look for coach Dan Bylsma to dress seven defensemen.
Kris Letang (Lower Body)
Evgeni Malkin (Upper Body)
You can follow me on Twitter: @PensNation_Ken