It may be the day of the Super Bo…… sorry, “Big Game” but there is a marque matchup happening on the ice too. After avoiding each other for the first half of the NHL season, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals meet for the first time at Capital One Arena, Sunday. The afternoon matchup marks the 50th regular-season Penguins game between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
In his 49 career games against Washington/Ovechkin, Crosby has 24 goals, 46 assists, and 70 points as the Penguins hold a 30-17-2 record. Ovechkin has 51 points (30G-21A) in the 49 head-to-head meetings.
As PHN Editor-in-Chief Dan Kingerski reported Saturday morning, Matt Murray will start in goal for the Penguins. On Saturday, Washington Head Coach Todd Rierden confirmed Ilya Samsonov will start in net for his team. Samsonov holds a 16-2-1 record and 2.12 goals-against thus far this year.
The Penguins needed overtime to win their first game back from the All-Star break, 4-3 over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins remained outshot, outhit, but converted on both their power-play chances to secure the extra point and start the unofficial second half of the season on the right foot. Similar to the teams’ matchup nine days prior, Philadelphia struck first on the scoreboard. Penguins nemesis Jakub Voracek took a cross-crease pass and deposited the puck into a wide-open net on the powerplay. The goal was the only score in the first period.
Down by one to start the second frame, the Penguins exploded for three goals to take a lead into the second intermission. Evgeni Malkin kicked off the period with a goal 3:55 seconds into the resummation of action. Malkin found a rebound on the doorstep to promptly tie the game, but it proved to be just an appetizer. Bryan Rust less than two minutes later gave his team the lead on the power play. The Penguins after holding the lead for most of the period added on late as well to stretch the lead to two. Sidney Crosby whipped the puck across the ice to Kris Letang, who buried a sharp-angle shot off Brian Elliott for a power-play goal. Philadelphia stopped the bleeding by cutting the lead back to one with a late goal by Tyler Pitlick (5).
The third period featured a quick tying goal by Philadelphia and a track meet the rest of the frame. Scott Laughton headed to the net and tapped the puck in to knot the score at 3-3 early. Both teams had chances in the remaining 17:40, but neither team could pot the leading goal. The extra five minutes were put on the clock for overtime, but the Penguins only needed 55 seconds. Sidney Crosby snapped a shot from the circle short side to lift the Penguins to the overtime win. Tristan Jarry earned the win in his first start since the break. Jarry despite surrendering the first goal stopped 27 of 30 shots in the win. Brian Elliott, after shutting out the Penguins in his last start, made just 16 saves in the loss.
Washington jumped out to an early two to nothing lead in 5-3 win against Ottawa, Friday. Washington received contributions from Jakub Vrana, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson, who each had two points in the win. Ovechkin tallied two goals. Thomas Chabot scored a goal and an assist for Ottawa but was a -1 in plus-minus. Ilya Samsonov made 25 saves for his 16th win of the year. Marcus Hogberg stopped 32 of 26 shots in the loss.
The Penguins’ 4-3 overtime win on Friday capped off the month of January which saw Pittsburgh go 8-3-1 (17 points), the third-best record in the NHL behind Tampa Bay (21) and Columbus (18). The 17 points are the most for the Penguins in the years’ first month since recording 18 points in January of the 2017-18 season.
Evgeni Malkin has 63 points (19G-44A) in 44 career games against Washington, which includes 11 points (3G-8A) over his last six games versus them. Malkin is one goal away from 20 against Washington, a feat he’s accomplished against eight other teams.
Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle)
Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)
Dominik Kahun (Concussion)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||15.1% (11-73) 27th NHL||92.2% (5-64) 1st NHL|
|Anaheim Ducks||26.3% (20-76) 5th NHL||86.3% (10-76) 3rd NHL|
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Rickard Rakell|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Radim Zohorna||Teddy Blueger||Brock McGinn|
|Drew O'Connor||Ryan Poehling||Drake Caggiula|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|Ty Smith||Jan Rutta|
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