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Capitals, Penguins conclude home-and-home series

by Adam Vingan

CAPITALS (30-26-10) at PENGUINS (43-17-4)


Last 10: Washington 5-4-1; Pittsburgh 5-3-2

Season series: This is the fourth and final game between these two Metropolitan Division rivals and the second in as many days. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 at Verizon Center on Monday.

Big story: The Penguins regained the top spot in the Eastern Conference from the idle Boston Bruins on Monday, and in doing so continued their recent dominance of the Capitals.

Pittsburgh has won seven straight games against Washington dating back to the 2011-12 season. Following their loss on Monday, the Capitals are 0-6-0 against the Penguins under coach Adam Oates.

Team scope:

Capitals: Despite a dominant start to the second period that saw them take 15 of the first 16 shots Monday, the Capitals could not take advantage and are winless in four of their past five games (1-3-1).

With 16 games remaining, Washington is still outside of the Stanley Cup Playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild-card spot. Facing one of the most daunting stretch runs in the League, the Capitals cannot take solace in moral victories.

"You can't get down this time of the season," forward Eric Fehr said. "You've got to stay positive and keep moving forward."

Penguins: Pittsburgh's place in the postseason is all but assured, holding a 16-point lead in the Metropolitan Division with 18 games left. For the Penguins, it is about securing the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed.

Pittsburgh returns home Tuesday after a 3-2-0 road trip. It ended on a winning note in Washington, but the Penguins were not particularly pleased with their overall effort.

"We understand that's not going to be a winning formula down the stretch," captain Sidney Crosby said.

Who's hot: Crosby earned his 92nd career three-point game Monday, a League-high since 2005-06. Forward Chris Kunitz has scored four goals in his past four games. … Forward Jason Chimera has assisted on five of Washington's goals in his past six games. Defenseman John Carlson has six assists in seven games.

Injury report: The Capitals are without forwards Brooks Laich (groin), Mikhail Grabovski (left ankle) and Aaron Volpatti (left shoulder). … Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) and forward Brian Gibbons (lower body) are day-to-day for the Penguins, but could return on Tuesday.

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