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game preview

Penguins at Capitals preview

Crosby, Ovechkin meet for 50th time in first game of season between Metropolitan rivals

by Harvey Valentine / Independent Correspondent

PENGUINS (32-14-5) at CAPITALS (35-12-5)

12:30 p.m. ET; NBC


The Game

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin will go head-to-head in the regular season for the 50th time in the NHL when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Sunday. 

The Capitals (75 points) and Penguins (69 points) are the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division, and they will play for the first time this season. Pittsburgh is 15-4-1 in its past 20 games, and Washington is 8-3-0 in its past 11.

Crosby and the Penguins are 30-17-2 against Ovechkin and the Capitals since each joined the NHL in 2005, with the Pittsburgh center having 70 points (24 goals, 46 assists). Ovechkin and the Capitals are 19-23-7 facing Crosby and the Penguins. The Washington forward has 51 points (30 goals, 21 assists) in those games.

Ovechkin, with 11 goals in his past five games, needs five goals to become the eighth player in NHL history to reach 700.

Crosby has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in six games after missing 28 games because of core muscle surgery.


Players to watch 

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in his past nine games.

Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov is 11-0-0 with a 1.73 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in his past 11 decisions. He can become the second rookie goalie in NHL history with wins in at least 12 straight decisions. The record is held by Ross Brooks, who won 14 consecutive decisions for the Boston Bruins in 1973-74.


They said it

"Anytime you face the top team in the League it's a test for you and obviously we all know the rivalry between the two teams. It's always a fun atmosphere and to go line up against them is going to be a fun challenge." -- Penguins defenseman Kris Letang

"It's always an exciting game to be a part of. Seems to bring out the best in both teams if you look over the years. It's an afternoon game, NBC, and it'll be our first of four in a short period of time so our team's excited about it as I'm sure theirs is. It'll be a good test of where our team's at." -- Capitals coach Todd Reirden


Penguins projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Sidney Crosby -- Dominik Simon

Bryan Rust -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-Reese -- Teddy Blueger -- Brandon Tanev

Alex Galchenyuk -- Andrew Agozzino -- Anthony Angello

Jack Johnson -- Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson -- John Marino

Chad Ruhwedel -- Justin Schultz

Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Juuso Riikola, Sam Lafferty

Injured: Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Jake Guentzel (shoulder surgery), Dominik Kahun (concussion)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin -- Lars Eller -- Richard Panik

Brendan Leipsic -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Radko Gudas

Ilya Samsonov

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Travis Boyd

Injured: None


Status report

Lafferty, a forward, was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Saturday but is not expected to play.


Stat pack

Rust has 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in his past 15 games. … Vrana has 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in his past 11 games.

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