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Monumental Matchup; Penguins Game 76 vs. Capitals: Lines, Notes & How to Watch

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Pittsburgh Penguins game, lines, Washington Capitals

This game will have it all. The rivalry. The showdown. What a matchup it will be Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins (34-30-11) play on the road against the Washington Capitals (36-28-10).

As always, there’s the head-to-head stylings of Penguins superstar center Sidney Crosby and Capitals beast Alex Ovechkin.

There also are huge implications for the playoff chase. A Penguins win would put them even more in the thick of things – incredible, considering not too long ago they were barely a blip on the potential postseason picture.

Game Time

The game starts a little after 7 p.m.

Penguins Preview

The Penguins are 4-0-2 in their past six games. That, coupled with some other teams in the Eastern Conference playoff chase faltering some, have the Penguins sitting three points behind Washington, which holds the second wildcard spot in the East. They are four points in back of third-place Philadelphia in the Metropolitan Division.

In particular, the Penguins could be riding a wave of confidence after knocking off the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils on the road on back-to-back nights earlier this week, including a five-goal third period against New Jersey.

It’s still a challenging climb. There are two teams between the Penguins and Capitals, and two teams on the Penguins’ heels.

In what should surprise no one, Crosby has led the way. He has six goals, 15 points during a six-game point streak.

Some sort of illness, apparently a stomach bug, has been affecting various Penguins players in recent days. It’s not known – and might not be until right up to game time – if any players will be out or playing at less than 100 percent Thursday.

One of the interesting story lines relating to that illness is that it forced goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic to start both back-to-back games earlier this week because Tristan Jarry was ill.

That gives Nedeljkovic six straight starts since he relieved Jarry March 22 at Dallas. Nedeljkovic has been the goalie of record during the six-game point streak.

Read more:

Kingerski: Better Late Than Never: Penguins Respond, Finally Reveal Character?

Molinari: Penguins Room: No Quit, ‘We’re Still in This Fight’

Washington has lost three straight games (0-2-1), most recently falling 6-2 Tuesday at Buffalo, which scored three third-period goals.

Ovechkin has no goals over his past four games in the wake of a five-game goal streak when he scored eight times.

A Penguins nemesis – actually, everyone’s nemesis – will return as winger Tom Wilson has finished serving a six-game suspension for a high stick on the Maple Leafs’ Noah Gregor.

Winger T.J. Oshie, who is day to day because of an upper-body injury, also could return.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s status could be up in the air as he was in some discomfort late in Washington’s practice Wednesday.

Expected Penguins Lines

Drew O’Connor-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust

Michael Bunting-Evgeni Malkin-Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith-Lars Eller-Valtteri Puustinen

Jesse Puljujarvi-Jeff Carter-Emil Bemstrom

Defense

P.O Joseph-Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson-Erik Karlsson

Ryan Shea-Jack St. Ivany

Goalies

Alex Nedeljkovic

Tristan Jarry

Expected Capitals Lines

Alex Ovechkin-Connor McMichael-T.J. Oshie

Ivan Miroshnichenko-Dylan Strome-Tom Wilson

Max Pacioretty-Hendrix Lapierre-Sonny Milano

Beck Malenstyn-Nic Dowd-Aliaksei Protas

Defense

Martin Fehervary-John Carlson

Rasmus Sandin-Nick Jensen

Alexander Alexeyev-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goalies

Charlie Lindgren

Darcy Kuemper

Penguins Special Teams

Penguins power play: 14.8%, 30th

Penguins penalty kill: 81.6%, 10th

Capitals power play: 21.1%, 17th

Capitals penalty kill: 78.6%, 20th

Penguins Game Notes

The Penguins are 1-2-0 against Washington this season – a 4-0 win on the road Oct. 13, a 4-3 loss at home Jan. 2, and a 6-0 loss at home March 7.

The Penguins are 3-0-1 in their past four games at Capital One Arena.

Sidney Crosby, who is three assists shy of 1,000 for his career, has 90 points (31 goals, 59 assists) in 70 career games against the Capitals.

Evgeni Malkin has 78 points (26 goals, 52 assists) in 61 career games against Washington.

This is the 68th head-to-head matchup between Crosby and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Crosby has all of his 90 points in those games, while Ovechkin has 66 points (36 goals, 30 assists).

Like Crosby, Bryan Rust has a six-game point streak (5 goals, 4 assists).

How to Watch

TV: SportsNet Pittsburgh

Radio: 105.9 FM The X

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Pete
Pete
8 days ago

Playoff game. Lets Go Pens!