7:30 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Last Penguins Game:
March 17, 2013 - Pittsburgh 2, Boston 1 [Recap]
The Penguins are on a roll no matter what way you slice it. Tonight they look for their tenth straight win over a Capitals team that has been just plain bad for nearly the entire season. They currently sit 13th in the Eastern Confernece and are seven points back of just tying for the last playoff spot. They need wins in a big way they right now they are running into a team that just can't lose. Add to the fact that the Caps are only 4-8-1 on the road this year and you migth be thinking this could get ugly. The Penguins have waxed the Capitals in both previous meetings and nothing that I have seen should point that in the other direction. Does that mean the Penguins are for sure going to win? No. Far from it, but they are in a good spot overall going into the game.
I guess I can use the term "good spot" loosely becuase the Pens are going to be without a few key cogs to the team tonight. We all know that Evgeni Malkin was unlikely to be back but he said that he is shooting to come back on Friday when the Penguins play the Islanders but the Guins are also going to be without Kris Letang. Letang's absense is a little more troublesome as he brings so much to the blueline that it is oging to be really hard to make up for that, if you can even come close to doing it. Still no idea what the official injury is but it is bad enough for him to miss a game. Matt Cooke also might miss the game after not being at the morning skate. If he is unable to go Robert Bortuzzo will be in the lineup as the Penguins will roll with seven defenseman.
The Capitals aren't all bad as they post a top five power play and Alex Ovechkin has scored in tow of the last three games so you really can't sleep on them. On top of that Brooks Laich is going to be back after missing some time and while that doesn't make them a good team all of that makes them a team that could go out and win on any given night if you aren't careful.
Branden Holtby is in net for the Caps. He has been pretty average all year with a 2.97 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. He was lit up for nine goals in just under 87 minutes of action against the Penguins this year in two games so it seems like when it goes bad for Holtby it goes really bad. Holtby has given up three goals in each of his last three games so it isn't like he is fire so the Penguins should try to exploit that.
Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes for the Penguins. He has been really good and has given up only three goals in his last three starts including a shutout against the Rangers in his last start.
Pittsburgh (22-8-0) (via Penguins website)
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Beau Bennett - Dustin Jeffrey - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tyler Kennedy
Tanner Glass - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen - Mark Eaton
Simon Despres - Deryk Engelland
Washington (12-15-1) (via Penguins website)
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Eric Fehr - Mike Ribeiro - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Joel Ward
Brooks Laich - Jay Beagle - Matt Hendricks
Karl Alzner - Steve Oleksy
Jack Hillen - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Dmitry Orlov
The Season Series (Penguins lead 2-0-0)
February 7, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Washington 2
February 3, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, Washington 3