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Capitals at Penguins preview

Washington 4-7-2 in past 13 games; Pittsburgh can close ground in Metropolitan race

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

CAPITALS (40-20-7) at PENGUINS (39-21-6) 



The Game 

The Pittsburgh Penguins can pull to within one point of first place in the Metropolitan Division with a win against the Washington Capitals at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday. 

The Penguins, who have won two straight following a season-long six-game losing streak, are three points behind the Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers for the division lead. Philadelphia will host the Buffalo Sabres later Saturday. 

The Capitals have lost two games in a row (0-1-1) and are 4-7-2 in their past 13 after a 6-5 overtime loss at the New York Rangers on Thursday.  

Washington and Pittsburgh have split the first two of four meetings this season. The Penguins won 4-3 at Capital One Arena on Feb. 2 before losing 5-3 there Feb. 23. 


Players to watch 

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is three goals from tying Mike Gartner (708) for seventh place on the NHL all-time list and is tied with Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak for the NHL goal lead (47) after having five points (four goals, one assist) in his past three games. 

Penguins center Sidney Crosby has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past two games after being held to one goal in his previous six. 


They said it 

"In terms of our consistency, shift to shift, it needs to improve. … Disappointed in some areas, that's for sure." -- Capitals coach Todd Reirden 

"I just think our whole overall game has gotten better. We've scored some goals. That helps our confidence." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan 


Capitals projected lineup 

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin -- Lars Eller -- Ilya Kovalchuk

Richard Panik -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway

Brenden Dillon -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Michal Kempny

Ilya Samsonov

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Travis Boyd, Brendan Leipsic, Radko Gudas

Injured: None 


Penguins projected lineup 

Jason Zucker -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Patrick Marleau -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust

Jared McCann -- Nick Bjugstad -- Patric Hornqvist

Brandon Tanev -- Teddy Blueger -- Evan Rodrigues

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson -- John Marino

Jack Johnson -- Justin Schultz

Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel, Juuso Riikola, Sam Lafferty

Injured: Jake Guentzel (shoulder surgery), Zach Aston-Reese (lower body), Dominik Simon (upper body), Anthony Angello (upper body) 


Status report 

The Capitals did not practice Friday. … The Penguins have not announced a starting goalie; Murray has started the past two games after alternating with Jarry the previous 11. 


Stat pack 

Kovalchuk had three points (one goal, two assists) against the Rangers on Thursday. The goal was his first in five games with Washington. … Malkin has six assists in his past two games. … Marleau needs one goal to pass Mike Modano (561) for sole possession of 25th place on the NHL all-time list.

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