Caps and Pens Tangle for Third Time
The fans at Capital One Arena will see the rubber-match between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals when they take their seats on Wednesday. The bitter Metropolitan Division rivals split their first two contests this season. Obviously, after the Capitals brushed aside the Penguins in the spring while capturing their first franchise Stanley Cup title.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, TVAS
Alex Ovechkin has seen his career-high 14-game point streak result in 12 victories for the Washington Capitals. He has amassed 17 goals and six assists during the streak.
Ovechkin scored a goal in Washington’s 7-6 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Oct. 4 and again in a 2-1 win on Nov. 7. The three-time Hart Trophy winner pushed his goal-scoring streak to six games. He followed up back-to-back hat tricks with his NHL-best 29th goal in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout victory versus Buffalo. The Capitals have won five straight.
The Penguins were on a 5-1-1 surge before squandering an early two-goal lead in Monday’s 4-2 loss against Anaheim. Evgeni Malkin opened the scoring with a power-play goal versus the Ducks. He has recorded 21 points in his last 14 games versus the Capitals. He has 10 goals and 11 assists.
The Penguins are 15-12-6 on the season. Sidney Crosby (four assists), Malkin (one goal, two assists) and Phil Kessel (two goals, one assist) carry three-game point streaks into Wednesday’s matchup. They share top honors with a team leading 36 points.
Bryan Rust has found his offensive prowess since snapping a 21-game goal drought. He turned a hat trick at Chicago last Wednesday. He has scored five goals and set up another in his past four games. Rust also prevented a sure tally by making like Matt Murray and putting his legs together for a “two-pad” save on Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.
Murray has permitted at least three goals in nine of his 12 appearances in 2018-19.
The Capitals are 20-9-3 on the season. Nicklas Backstrom has set up six goals in his last three contests. He has matched defenseman John Carlson with a club-best 30 assists this season.
Carlson also set up six goals in a three-game stretch before being held off the scoresheet versus the Sabres. He has collected consecutive two-point performances versus Pittsburgh this season. That gives him 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 33 career meetings.
PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Capitals 2
NHL Betting Odds & Trends
|The Penguins are 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games|
|Pittsburgh is 1-7 ATS in its last 8 games on the road|
|The Penguins are 2-8 SU in its last 10 games on the road|
|The Penguins are 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Washington|
|Pittsburgh is 2-5 SU in its last 7 games when playing Washington|
|The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Pittsburgh’s last 13 games when playing Washington|
|The Penguins are 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Washington|
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Pittsburgh’s last 7 games when playing on the road against Washington|
|The Capitals are 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games|
|Washington is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games|
|The total has gone OVER in 7 of Washington’s last 8 games|
|The Capitals are 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games at home|
|Washington is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games at home|
|The total has gone OVER in 4 of Washington’s last 5 games at home|
|The Capitals are 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Pittsburgh|
|Washington is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games when playing Pittsburgh|
|The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Washington’s last 13 games when playing Pittsburgh|
|The Capitals are 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Pittsburgh|
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Washington’s last 7 games when playing at home against Pittsburgh|
Pittsburgh home to Minnesota Thursday, December 20
Washington home to Buffalo Friday, December 21
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