Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins have had their troubles on the road this season. Beating Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on their home ice, however, hasn't been a problem for them in recent years.
The Penguins look for a third straight victory overall and fifth in a row at Washington on Sunday afternoon in the latest meeting between two of the NHL's biggest stars.
Currently 10th in the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh (29-25-6) knows points are at a premium the rest of the season as it tries to move up into the top eight teams. Reaching the playoffs could be difficult if they don't play well on the road, where the Penguins are 13-13-4 and play seven of their next nine before finishing with a majority of home games.
Pittsburgh snapped a five-game road losing streak (0-3-2) with a 5-4 victory at Philadelphia on Saturday for its second win in its last 11 away from home.
Crosby had two goals with two assists, Ruslan Fedotenko had two with one assist and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin added his 27th goal and an assist.
Highlighted by a three-goal second period, the Penguins improved to 2-0-1 since Dan Bylsma replaced the fired Michel Therrien as coach Sunday. Pittsburgh won 5-4 over Montreal on Thursday.
"I think it says a lot about our group right now," said Bylsma, whose team has scored as many goals in the last two games as it did in the previous five. "It's a tough go and a difficult situation. They've been attentive and hardworking."
Bylsma hopes that attitude continues in this contest - the Penguins' third straight against an opponent currently among the top five in the East and first at Washington this season.
"I think we're trying to set the pace a little bit more," said Crosby, who recorded his 250th career assist Saturday.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves against Philadelphia and will likely be in net trying to avoid a third straight loss to Washington. He is 7-2-0 with a 2.54 goals-against average against the Capitals.
Though Washington won the previous two contests versus Pittsburgh this season, the Penguins are 4-0 against the Capitals on the road since losing 6-3 there on March 8, 2006.
The Capitals, though, are 23-5-1 at home this season, but fell 4-1 to Colorado there Friday. Only one of those regulation losses have come against a team from the East.
Crosby had two goals in Pittsburgh's 4-2 win on March 9 in the Penguins' most recent visit to the Verizon Center. He has four assists in two games against the Capitals this season and seven goals with 16 assists in 13 career contests versus Washington.
After being held scoreless in his team's 4-3 win at Pittsburgh on Oct. 16, Ovechkin had two goals and an assist in the Capitals' 6-3 victory there on Jan. 14. He has eight goals and 10 assists in 14 games versus the Penguins.
The league's goal-scoring leader with 42, Ovechkin had his point streak snapped at 10 games in the loss to the Avalanche.
While the result snapped a three-game winning streak for the Southeast Division-leading Capitals, they don't feel they were looking ahead to this matinee with their rival.
"I think we're all professional and that shouldn't be the case," said Washington's Jose Theodore, who made 21 saves against his former team. "We've got to focus on the game we have. We didn't do as well as we wanted."
Theodore has won three in a row against Pittsburgh and owns a 14-4-1 record with a tie and a 2.28 GAA all-time versus the Penguins.