The Pittsburgh Penguins are on a roll, and an Eastern Conference wildcard spot could be within reach Tuesday as they take on the visiting Washington Capitals.
The Penguins (18-13-4) and Capitals (17-11-6) each have 40 points. The winner Tuesday would move into the second wildcard spot in the East if Tampa Bay loses at Winnipeg.
The game starts a little after 7:30 p.m.
The Penguins have won three games in a row and are 7-1-1 in their past nine games.
After being inconsistent for most of the season, there seems to be a feeling that the Penguins, whose roster had a lot of offseason changes, are finally rounding into form.
They are getting strong goaltending from Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic. After the stars have carried them a lot, they are now getting secondary scoring, including two goals by Lars Eller and one by Noel Acciari in their most recent game, a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday.
This game features the rivalry matchup of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby.
Plus, to kick off 2024, it seems that there is a strong chance the Penguins could get top-six winger Bryan Rust back from an upper-body injury. He has been practicing and is eligible to come off LTIR on Tuesday.
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The Capitals likewise have been seeking consistency all season, but they are going in the opposite direction of the Penguins lately. Washington has lost four in a row (0-0-2) and was 4-5-4 in December.
Saturday, the Capitals erased a two-goal deficit only to lose in a shootout 3-2 against the Nashville Predators.
What’s more, Ovechkin is tied for the team lead with 21 points but has just seven goals. He has one point, a goal, over the past four games.
Expected Penguins Lines
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Rickard Rakell
Reilly Smith-Evgeni Malkin-Bryan Rust
Drew O’Connor-Lars Eller-Valtteri Puustinen
Jansen Harkins-Noel Acciari-Jeff Carter
Marcus Pettersson-Kris Letang
Ryan Graves-Erik Karlsson
John Ludvig-Chad Ruhwedel
Capitals Expected Lines
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson
Aliaksei Protas-Connor McMichael-Anthony Mantha
Hendrix Lapierre-Dylan Strome-Matthew Phillips
Beck Malenstyn-Nic Dowd-Nicolas-Aube-Kubel
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Rasmus Sandin-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Joel Edmundson-Ethan Bear
Penguins Special Teams
Penguins power play: 13.4%, 27th
Penguins penalty kill: 82.1%, 11th
Capitals power play: 11.5%, 30th
Capitals penalty kill: 82.1%, 11th
Penguins Game Notes
The Penguins have points in seven straight home games (6-0-1).
In 66 head-to-head matchups between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, the Penguins are 39-23-4. In those 66 games, Crosby has 88 points (30 goals, 58 assists), Ovechkin, 63 points (34 goals, 29 assists).
Valtteri Puustinen has eight points (1 goal, 7 assists) in 11 career games. That’s 10th most in team history for any player through 11 games.
The Penguins won the teams’ first meeting of the season 4-0 on Oct. 13 and have a four-game point streak (3-0-1) against the Captials.
Reilly Smith is scheduled to appear in his 800th NHL game.
Jake Guentzel has 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) with two game-winning goals in 24 career games against the Capitals.
Sidney Crosby has 1,538 points, one shy of tying Joe Thornton for 12th in NHL history.
The Penguins’ 92 goals against are tied for fourth fewest in the league, and their .915 save percentage ranks second.
How to Watch
TV: Streaming only on ESPN+ and Hulu
Radio: 105.9 FM The X