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Capitals-Penguins Preview @NHL
Capitals-Penguins Preview

GAME: Washington Capitals (8-12-0) at Pittsburgh Penguins (6-9-6).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The top overall picks in the last two NHL drafts square off for the first time when Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals meet Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.

"You're talking about the two premiere rookies in the league," Penguins radio play-by-play announcer Paul Steigerwald said. "Those are two guys who will definitely be finalists for the Calder Trophy."

Ovechkin, the top pick in 2004, had to wait to make his NHL debut because of the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season. His development apparently hasn't been affected, as he leads the Capitals with 15 goals and 21 points.

The 20-year-old left wing from Moscow has scored 38 percent of Washington's goals, has four two-goal games and is on his way to shattering the Capitals' record for goals by a rookie. Bobby Carpenter had 32 goals for Washington in 1981-82.

Ovechkin was held without a point for just the fourth time in 20 games Saturday in Washington's 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Caps' prized rookie is facing the distraction of some legal issues involving his former Russian team. Dynamo Moscow said Sunday it wants a U.S. court to enforce a Russian arbitrator's ruling that the team still owns the rights to Ovechkin, who leads all NHL rookies in goals and is second in points to Crosby.

"Alex exercised his right to opt out of the Russian contract this past summer and signed with the Capitals. We are confident that the court will uphold Alex's contractual status and decision," Washington general manager George McPhee said in a statement Sunday.

Crosby, this year's much-heralded top selection by the Penguins, has 10 goals, and his 25 points are tops are tops among rookies - as well as tops overall on his team.

"Everyone is comparing us a lot, but I am not really worried about it. I have to worry about playing my game," Crosby said of the matchup with Ovechkin. "Yeah, there's going to be healthy competition there and that's to be expected with us both being No. 1 picks.

"It's going to be cool to have us both out there. It's not something I am going to turn into me against him, though."

Crosby, 18, extended his goal streak to a career-best three games in the Penguins' 6-3 loss Saturday to Philadelphia.

Unlike Ovechkin, Crosby has the advantage of playing with Hall of Fame linemate Mario Lemieux, who holds the team's rookie goal record of 43 set in 1984-85.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 21): Capitals - 16 points, 4th place (tied), 13 PB, Southeast Division. Penguins - 18 points, 5th place, 11 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Ovechkin, 15 goals and 21 points; Steve Eminger and Jeff Halpern, 11 assists; Brendan Witt, 68 PIM. Penguins - Crosby, 10 goals and 25 points; Crosby and Zigmund Palffy, 15 assists; Brooks Orpik, 38 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 21): Capitals - Power play: 12.5 percent (14 for 112), 28th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78 percent (121 for 155), 28th. Penguins - Power play: 18 percent (26 for 144), 18th. Penalty killing: 77.7 percent (112 for 144), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (7-7-0, 3.58 GAA); Brent Johnson (1-4-0, 5.34). Penguins - Jocelyn Thibault (1-5-2, 4.51); Sebastien Caron (4-3-3, 3.68).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: 2-2.

LAST MEETING: April 4, 2004; Penguins, 4-3. At Pittsburgh, Milan Kraft scored the winner with 2:38 to play to lift the Pens. Lasse Pirjeta had two goals for Pittsburgh.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 2-8-0 on the road; Penguins - 2-5-3 at home.

Associated Press
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