CAPITALS (31-19-10) at PENGUINS (36-19-5)
TV: Versus, TSN2, RDS.
Last 10: Washington 4-5-1; Pittsburgh 5-4-1.
Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. After losing Round 1 in a shootout, the Capitals have won the last two showdowns, including a 3-0 victory against the Penguins on Feb. 6 at the Verizon Center.
Big Story: The rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin has evolved into one of the best in the NHL. Unfortunately, the Penguins' captain won't be in the lineup when these teams meet Monday night in the Steel City, as Crosby continues to be sidelined by a concussion likely suffered due to a hit from Caps forward David Steckel during the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field.
Capitals: After suffering a 3-2 loss at San Jose on Thursday night, Washington got back on track Sunday when it earned a 2-1 win at Buffalo. Marcus Johansson scored the go-ahead goal 9:40 into the third period, tipping in Mathieu Perreault's shot from the left circle, to help the struggling Capitals -- who now trail the Lightning by just three points in the Southeast Division -- improve to 2-2 on this five-game road trip that concludes Monday night.
"For us, it's huge," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Nobody seems to be winning – which is great – in the Eastern Conference. We want to get closer to Tampa. We don't want to be in that race in the last five games where you're dying, you need the win on the road to get into the playoffs. Hopefully we'd be beyond that. That's where it was so huge."
Penguins: Despite the absence of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pens have managed to accumulate points as they aim to have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pittsburgh managed to earn a point Sunday in a 3-2 shootout loss at Chicago. Brett Sterling erased a 2-1 deficit for the Pens when he scored with 3:18 left in regulation.
"Our team stayed with it and kept going," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "We knew we were going to have to battle one out. … We kept playing and we got the (late) goal and we'll take the point."
Who's Hot: Alex Ovechkin had an assist for the Caps on Sunday, giving the Russian superstar five points in his last three games. … With his goal Sunday, Sterling has a five-game point streak.
Injury Report: Caps defenseman Mike Green (upper body) is questionable, while Tom Poti is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Eric Fehr (shoulder) is out. … Pittsburgh is without Crosby (concussion), Evgeni Malkin (knee), Mark Letestu (knee), Arron Asham (upper body), Chris Kunitz (lower body), Dustin Jeffrey (lower body) and Eric Tangradi (concussion). Nick Johnson also missed his first game Sunday with an upper-body injury.
Stat Pack: Washington boasted nine players with three or more shots on goal in Sunday's game. The Caps' total of 34 shots on goal after two periods was higher than each of their previous six games and 19 of their previous 22.
Puck Drop: "We were – up until about five games ago – maybe one of the best third-period clubs in the League at giving up goals. And then we started giving them up and we lost four out of five. I thought they dug deep and they blocked shots and they did what they had to do. It was a hard-earned two points." -- Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau after Sunday's win at Buffalo