The NHL is set up with another great night of action throughout Tuesday. Six games are up on the board throughout February 16. One of these games will be between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. These two teams have had solid starts to this season and will look for a big win in this one. This game will drop the puck at around 7:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
Washington has opened up this season with a record of 6-4-3 so far, which has them sitting in fourth place of the East Division. The Capitals have lost four games in a row entering this one and will look to get back in the win column. Washington is in the middle of the tight playoff race in the East, which makes every one of these games very important.
The Penguins have posted a record of 7-5-1 throughout the early stages of this season, which has them sitting in fifth place of the East Division. Pittsburgh is tied with the Capitals and the New York Islanders in points, but have won less games in regulation. The Penguins have won their last two games and will look to keep that up with a win in this one.
These two teams have had solid starts to this season, which should lead to an exciting matchup on Tuesday night. These two teams are tied in points to this point in the season. The Capitals have hit a tough losing streak as of late, but will look to knock off Pittsburgh to get back on a roll. I expect both teams to come out quickly in this one as they try to set the pace.
The Capitals and the Penguins have already met up three times this season. The first game was in Pittsburgh on January 17. Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist, while Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists. Marcus Pettersson, Evan Rodrigues and Colton Sceviour each had a goal on the night to force a shootout. Jake Guentzel scored in the shootout to give the Penguins a 4-3 win.
The second game of the season series stayed in Pittsburgh on January 19. Tom Wilson had two goals on the night, but Washington could not finish it out. Sidney Crosby scored the game winner in overtime and added two assists. Teddy Blueger and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and an assist, while Kris Letang added two assists. The Penguins finished with a 5-4 win in overtime.
The most recent game of the season series was also in Pittsburgh on February 14. Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana all scored for the Capitals, but once again it was not enough. Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists, while Bryan Rust had two goals and an assist. Cody Ceci, Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby all had two points to lead the Penguins to a 6-3 win.
Pittsburgh has dominated this season series so far, winning all three games against the Capitals. Washington was able to win last season’s series 2-1 over the Penguins. The Capitals will look to bounce back with some success in this one. Washington’s defense needs to tighten up on Pittsburgh after giving up 15 goals to them so far this season.
Washington’s special teams has been dangerous throughout the early part of this season. The Capitals have scored 11 goals on 31 power play opportunities, which is a 35.5 percent power play. Washington has killed off 36 of the 45 penalties against them, which is an 80 percent kill rate. The Capitals will look to use special teams to their advantage in this one.
The Penguins have struggled on both sides of special teams so far this season. Pittsburgh has capitalized on 6 of their 39 power play attempts, which is a 15.4 percent success rate. The Penguins have given up 12 goals on their opponents 41 power play chances, which is a 70.7 percent penalty kill. Pittsburgh needs to turn this around if they want to step up as the season goes along.
The Capitals have a clear edge on special teams in this one. Washington has the better power play and penalty kill, but it has not led to a win over Pittsburgh yet this season. The Capitals will look to score a couple of power play goals in this one, while continuing to neutralize the Penguins power play. If Washington can dominate on the power play, it could give them a big edge in this one.
I expect Vitek Vanacek to get the start between the pipes for the Capitals in this one. Vanacek has started in 11 games this season, going 5-3-2 in his starts. He has put up a save percentage of .901 and a 3.26 GAA in those games. Vanacek’s last start was against the Penguins, where he stopped 32 of 36 shots in the losing effort.
Tristan Jarry will likely get the nod in the crease for Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Jarry has earned a record of 3-4-1 throughout his 8 starts this season. He has posted a .864 save percentage and a GAA of 3.82 in those games. Jarry turned away 28 of 31 shots in his last start against the Washington Capitals, which was enough for the win.
Vanacek has put up the better numbers and record to this point in the season. Vanacek has done a great job stepping up with Ilya Samsonov still out. Samsonov is closing in on a return, but is not quite there yet. The Penguins have struggled with their goaltending this season and need Jarry to step up in this one. If either goalie can give his team momentum with some big stops early, it could lead to a win.
The Capitals have lost three games in a row to Pittsburgh entering this one, but I think they can turn it around with a win on Tuesday night. Washington has been strong throughout the early stages of this season and hold an edge on special teams and goaltending. If the Capitals can put together a more complete game, they should be able to knock off the Penguins.
BetOnline has Pittsburgh listed as a -120 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Penguins will win this game around 54.6 percent of the time. Pittsburgh has been solid this season, but with these two rivals, this close line makes sense. The Capitals have been knocking on the door against the Penguins and as underdogs, they have a lot of value.