There are only two games on the NHL docket tonight and one of them promises to be a dandy. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals take the spotlight in the first slot, while the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche duel it out in the late game. The Canadiens and Avalanche had a pretty decent rivalry going back in the day after Patrick Roy left Montreal.
That’s kind of evaporated over the years, but the Penguins and Capitals have had a strong rivalry going for the past decade. Ever since Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were drafted, there’s been an ongoing feud between the Canadian and Russian. Their accomplishments have been compared, with Crosby winning more Cups and a Gold Medal, but Ovechkin hopes to add another Stanley Cup ring to his mantle following this season.
Ovechkin looks like he could play for another ten years at this rate. While Crosby has shown signs of slowing down a bit, there has been no letting up for Ovechkin who has been on a torrid pace this season. He’s on a six-game scoring streak and scored in ten of his last eleven games.
That includes a back-to-back hat trick and 14 goals during that stretch. Overall on the year, Ovechkin has 29 goals and 14 assists. We’re not even at the halfway mark and he’s going to easily surpass 30 goals by then. He had a career-high of 65 goals in 2007-08 and may be threatening to break that record. For Ovechkin, he would gladly take another Stanley Cup rather than personal accomplishments, though.
The Capitals enter Wednesday with a record of 20-9-2 following a slow start to the year. They will put a five-game winning streak on the line tonight at Capital One Arena against the Penguins. The Penguins enter at 15-12-4 and look a step or two behind the Caps this season. They are coming off a bad 4-2 loss to the Ducks at home on Monday. Head below for our free Capitals vs. Penguins pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals Pick
The Capitals haven’t been able to stop scoring. Led by Ovechkin and his massive tear, the Caps have scored an average of nearly 5 goals per game with 4.5 goals scored in their previous ten games. They’ve recorded at least 4 goals in nine of those ten games, including 16 goals in their last three games alone. The Hurricanes and Sabres both pushed them to overtime, but the Caps’ offensive onslaught was just too much to overcome.
The Capitals ultimately beat the Hurricanes in a shootout and the Sabres in overtime. Whether the Penguins go with Matt Murray or DeSmith in net, they’re going to have a difficult test on Wednesday night in Washington. Murray is going to have to work to get his starting job back after DeSmith played well in his absence.
However, DeSmith hasn’t been so hot recently, as he’s allowed at least 3 goals in his last three games between the pipes. The worst case scenario would be that Murray and DeSmith both go cold at the same time. In a perfect world in Pittsburgh, Murray will revert back to the goaltender we’ve seen in the past. He had made one start since returning and allowed 3 goals against the Kings, who own the worst offence in the league. The Kings have struggled to touch 3 goals for the majority of the season, so that’s not going to give anyone confidence.
Finding confidence in the Penguins’ defence or goaltending against the hottest offence in the league at the moment is pretty difficult. The first meeting was a low-scoring 2-1 win for the Capitals. Though, the Capitals were not scoring like they are now.
They were still trying to get out of their hangover, but have been rolling since the end of November. The Penguins are going to have to try to keep pace with the Caps. I don’t believe they can try and just slow the game down and win like that. Pittsburgh have allowed 3.4 goals per game in their last ten games and that number is likely to go up after tonight. The Capitals will get their chances.
The Pens still have a top-10 offence to lean on, though. They’re 7th with 3.36 goals per game, while the Caps are 2nd. Holtby has been below average against the Pens in his career, with a 3.00 GAA and 0.91 save percentage, so that could be their opening to a win tonight. Either way, we likely see a high-scoring final score with more than 6 goals on the scoreboard on Wednesday at Capital One Arena.