PENGUINS (32-21-8) AT CAPITALS (45-12-4)
TV: 7:30 PM ET; NBCSN, TVAS, SN1, SNE, SNO
ARLINGTON, Va. -- If the Stanley Cup Playoffs started today, the Washington Capitals would play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round. This possible playoff preview featuring Sidney Crosby going up against Alex Ovechkin has been more than a month in the making, with the original Jan. 24 game postponed by a blizzard.
"They're a pretty experienced team, fast team," Ovechkin, the Capitals captain, said. "Obviously unbelievably talented up front. We just have to manage our game, our mind, play simple and play our way."
Goalie Braden Holtby will start for the Capitals and defenseman Mike Weber will debut for Washington. The Capitals acquired Weber from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 23, but he didn't join them until the weekend.
"It's been a crazy, crazy week," Weber said. "Started on the west coast, traded here, started the drive, my wife gave birth. It's been an exciting week here and it's nice to get back to work and do my job. It'll be fun tonight."
Weber had five points and 32 penalty minutes in 35 games with the Sabres this season. His addition couldn't have come at a better time for the Capitals' defensive depth with John Carlson expected to be out for another three weeks after having a procedure to repair a lower-body injury.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz said there isn't a strategy for how frequently Weber will play; he simply wants to get him into a game. Weber will play alongside Nate Schmidt against the Penguins.
"We've got to get him in, he's part of the group, this is our team," Trotz said. "He's from the Pittsburgh area. We'll put him right in, let him go at it and go from there."
The Penguins did not have a morning skate Tuesday. Goaltender Matthew Murray is expected to start.
Here are the projected lineups:
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson - Nick Bonino - Bryan Rust
Kevin Porter - Matt Cullen - Tom Kuhnhackl
Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Trevor Daley - Brian Dumoulin
Ian Cole - Derrick Pouliot
Injured: Beau Bennett (upper body), Eric Fehr (lower body), Ben Lovejoy (upper body)
Scratched: David Warsofsky, Justin Schultz
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson
Jay Beagle - Mike Richards - Stanislav Galiev
Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner
Brooks Orpik - Taylor Chorney
Nate Schmidt - Mike Weber
Injured: John Carlson (lower body)
Scratched: Dmitry Orlov, Daniel Winnik, Michael Latta
Status report: Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Carlson's injury is not serious and expects him to return in three weeks.
Who's hot: Backstrom has three points in three games … Hornqvist has five points in two games, including a hat trick in the Penguins' 6-0 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.