The two hottest teams in the NHL will renew one of the game's most intense rivalries when the Pittsburgh Penguins play the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center in Washington on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).
The Capitals have won six straight games, including a 4-1 defeat of the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre in Montreal on Monday. That victory pulled the Capitals even with the Penguins with 57 points as the two teams chase the first-place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins have won five in a row, including a 6-2 victory at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
There's never any love lost when the Penguins and Capitals play.
Here are 5 reasons to tune in:
The Penguins players likely haven't forgotten their previous trip to Verizon Center, a 7-1 loss on Nov. 16. The Capitals scored four times at even strength, twice on the power play and once while shorthanded. Phil Kessel scored for the Penguins with 3:32 remaining in the third period, which did nothing but cost Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby a shutout.
Video: Oshie, Backstrom lead Capitals' rout of Penguins
The Penguins and Capitals are two of the teams that have made the Metropolitan Division the toughest in the NHL. While they're chasing the Blue Jackets for first place, right behind them is the New York Rangers, who also have 57 points but have played 42 games, two more than the Capitals and three more than the Penguins. The team that finishes first in the division plays a wild-card team in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs; the second- and third-place teams play each other and the fourth-place team likely will play the Atlantic Division champion, probably the Canadiens.
Another milestone for Ovechkin?
Alex Ovechkin has won the Rocket Richard Trophy, given to the leading goal scorer in the NHL, six times. He scored his 544th NHL goal against the Canadiens, tying him with Richard for 29th on the all-time list. Ovechkin also had two assists, giving him 999 points in 879 regular-season games. One more point will make him the 84th player in League history to reach 1,000. He would join Sergei Fedorov (1,179), Alexander Mogilny (1,032) and Alex Kovalev (1,029) as the only Russia-born players to reach that milestone.
Video: Ovechkin records his 900th NHL point
Sid the scorer
Though Crosby missed the first six games of the season because of a concussion, he leads the League with 26 goals (Ovechkin is tied for sixth with 19). Crosby also is tied for first in the League with nine power-play goals, and his shooting percentage (22.4) would be an NHL career best. He's on pace to surpass his career-high of 51 goals, set in 2009-10, and has re-established himself as the unquestioned best player in hockey.
Holtby isn't likely to match last season's 48 victories, which equaled the NHL single-season record held by Martin Brodeur (2006-07). But his 1.90 goals-against average and .931 save percentage this season are better than the 2.20 GAA and .922 save percentage he had in 2015-16. Holtby has allowed one goal on 82 shots in his past three games, all victories, and was named the NHL Third Star for last week.