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Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

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GAME: Washington Capitals (21-41-8-2) at Pittsburgh Penguins (17-44-7-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Although they have long been eliminated from playoff contention, the Pittsburgh Penguins are having a lot of fun.

Unbeaten in a season-high five games (4-0-1), the league-worst Penguins will look to keep rolling when they host the lowly Washington Capitals.

Since ending their 18-game losing streak on Feb. 25, the Penguins are 6-2-2 for their best 10-game stretch since going 7-1-2 from Oct. 12-Nov. 2, 2002.

"You can't compare this with a month ago," goaltender Sebastien Caron said. "This is a new wave. It's going on (on) the ice, it's going on in the (dressing) room. It's fun now to be here now that we're winning."

The unbeaten streak includes victories at home over Stanley Cup hopefuls Dallas and Toronto as well as Sunday's 3-3 with Philadelphia, which leads the Atlantic Division.

"We've been working hard for each other and it's paid off," defenseman Dick Tarnstrom said. "It seems like we've put everything together and played hard hockey."

Forwards Aleksey Morozov and Milan Kraft have played a major role in the Penguins' run. Morozov, who went 33 games without a goal earlier this season, has scored in three straight games for the first time in his career, including netting two on Sunday.

Kraft had his first three-assist game and has four goals and 12 points in his last 10 games.

The Penguins trail the Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets by seven points in the NHL overall standings. Pittsburgh plays three of its final 10 games against Washington, which has won just two of its last 11 (2-9-0).

Pittsburgh coach Eddie Olczyk expects his team to be prepared for Tuesday's game.

"For us it's another game, it's another good challenge," he said. "We're going to be ready to go. We want to keep this thing going, because we have a really good run here and the guys are feeling good."

Washington, also eliminated from the playoff race, is coming off its fourth straight loss, 5-2 to Atlanta on Saturday. The Thrashers scored the game's final three goals.

"It was frustrating, getting ourselves back in the game and then losing like that," said Brian Willsie, who had a goal and an assist. "We are doing a good job at getting ourselves back into it, but we can't get over the hump and put the games away."

Pittsburgh leads the all-time series with Washington 76-73-16-1.

STANDINGS: Capitals - 52 points, 5th place, 43 PB, Southeast Division. Penguins - 45 points, 5th place, 49 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Jeff Halpern, 13 goals, 19 assists and 32 points; Darcy Verot, 106 PIM. Penguins - Ryan Malone, 21 goals; Tarnstrom, 31 assists and 44 points; Brooks Orpik, 117 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 14): Capitals - Power play: 18.7 percent (56 for 297), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.1 percent (279 for 344), 27th. Penguins - Power play: 16.0 percent (51 for 319), 16th. Penalty killing: 76.1 percent (252 for 331), 30th.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (18-32-7, 2 SO, 2.87 GAA); Sebastien Charpentier (0-6-0, 3.41). Penguins - Caron (6-22-4, 1, 3.83); Jean-Sebastien Aubin (4-8-0, 1, 3.06).

SEASON SERIES: Capitals, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 18; Capitals, 4-3. At Washington, Robert Lang, since traded to Detroit, had a goal and three assists for Washington, which earned a point for the fifth straight game.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 10-21-3-1 on the road; Penguins - 9-22-5-0 at home.


Associated Press
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