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Preview: Capitals at Penguins

Washington after 10th straight win; Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang placed on injured reserve

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

CAPITALS (29-9-5) at PENGUINS (26-11-5)

7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN, ROOT

 

Capitals team scope

The Washington Capitals have won nine straight since a 2-1 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 29. They have outscored opponents 40-11 during the winning streak and lead the NHL with 63 points. "I think we've just been trying to worry about the next game ahead of us and not get too far ahead," coach Barry Trotz said. Defenseman John Carlson traveled but will not play because of a lower-body injury. "He's close, but I just think long-term, we just keep him out tonight," Trotz said. "Then I expect him to be ready to go [against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday]." Trotz said the defense pairs would rotate. Goalie Braden Holtby will likely start after Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves to shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0 on Sunday. Holtby has allowed three goals in five straight wins, which includes three shutouts. 

 

Penguins team scope

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was placed on injured reserve and is week to week because of a lower-body injury. Letang appeared to tweak his left knee after getting tangled up with Detroit Red Wings forward Thomas Vanek in the first period of a 6-3 loss Saturday. He returned to take one shift but left a second time. "The thought process when he took a shift was he thought that he could go," coach Mike Sullivan said. "Obviously, he didn't feel well enough [after the shift] that he was strong enough to play, so that's when we decided to take him out." Letang had played five straight games since missing seven because of a lower-body injury. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel and forward Jake Guentzel, who could play left wing on center Evgeni Malkin's line, were recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Goalie Matt Murray, who allowed four goals on 29 shots in his first game back from a lower-body injury against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, is expected to start. The Penguins return to PPG Paints Arena, where they are 18-2-2, after losing three straight on the road by a combined score of 15-6. "It's nice to be back home," captain Sidney Crosby said. "We still feel like whether we're home or away, we have to play the right way and just be more consistent." Pittsburgh has not lost four straight in regulation since Dec. 14-19, 2015.

 

Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Andre Burakovsky

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Dmitry Orlov

Taylor Chorney -- Nate Schmidt

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Chandler Stephenson

Injured: John Carlson (lower body)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Conor Sheary -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Jake Guentzel -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Carl Hagelin -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Chris Kunitz -- Matt Cullen -- Scott Wilson

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

David Warsofsky -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Tom Kuhnhackl, Eric Fehr, Steve Oleksy

Injured: Brian Dumoulin (broken jaw), Kris Letang (lower body)

 

Status report

Stephenson was recalled from Hershey of the AHL on Saturday. He has yet to make his season debut after playing nine games with the Capitals last season. … Dumoulin skated on his own Monday. … Sullivan could reunite the 'HBK Line' of Bonino centering Hagelin and Kessel. Bonino has gone nine games with a goal and Hagelin has scored two goals in his past 15 games.

 

Who's hot

Ovechkin has three goals and seven points in his past four games. He scored his 1,000th NHL point 35 seconds into the game against the Penguins on Wednesday. … Malkin has scored six goals and 13 points in his past 11 games. … Williams has scored seven goals and 13 points in his past 11 games. … Kuznetsov has scored two goals and 10 points in his past seven. … Backstrom is on a six-game point streak (three goals, 12 points). … Oshie has scored four goals and 10 points in his past eight games.

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