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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, March 12, 2019
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  Attendance: 18,640

Penguins looking to cool off Capitals

Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins

  1. Since 2005-06, the debut season for both Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, the two clubs have squared off 55 times in the regular season. The Penguins have 31 wins and 66 points to the Capitals' 24 wins and 57 points. Total goals in the 55 games is almost even: 169 for Washington to 167 for Pittsburgh.
  2. Washington has won seven straight games, matching the club's longest streak this season (also done in November). In their last four games, the Capitals have trailed for a total of one minute, 18 seconds -- and not at all in the last three games.
  3. From January 6 through the end of February, the Penguins were 5-5-0 at home, killing only 65.6 percent of opponent power plays (21-for-32). In three March home games, Pittsburgh is 3-0-0, allowing only four goals and killing penalties at an 81.8-percent rate (9-for-11).
  4. Alex Ovechkin needs one point to reach 1200 for his career. Only two active players have surpassed 1200 points: Joe Thornton (1467) and Sidney Crosby (1204). If Ovechkin scores one goal on Tuesday, his career total would be 654 goals, divided exactly evenly between home and road (327 each).
  5. Evgeni Malkin is two points away from 1000 for his career. He stands to become one of five active players to reach that plateau, and one on three to have done so while playing his entire career with a single team -- joining Ovechkin and Crosby.
  6. Including 2018-19, the Penguins have reeled off 13 straight seasons over .500, while the Caps are at 12 seasons in succession (both teams are assured winning records this year). Only San Jose (15) and Boston (12) also have active streaks of 12-plus winning seasons (including '18-19 for both).
(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

For the second game in a row, the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to play the streak-buster role.

On Tuesday they host the Washington Capitals, who have matched their season high with a seven-game winning streak. That comes on the heels of a 4-2 win Sunday that snapped the Boston Bruins' 19-game point streak.

It's also a matchup of the teams who won the past three Stanley Cups -- the Penguins in 2016 and 2017 and the Capitals last year.

The longtime rivals are once again vying for position in the Metropolitan Division.

Washington, which leads the division, extended its winning streak with a 3-1 win Sunday against Central Division leader Winnipeg.

The Capitals took pride in limiting the Jets' scoring chances, including the line of Nicklas Backstrom, Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie holding Winnipeg's high-scoring trio of Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler without a point.

"It means a lot," Backstrom, who scored in the game, said of the defensive effort. "It's really good for our confidence anytime you can keep a team like this on the outside. ... It was something positive and will give us confidence going forward."

Related to the defensive surge, Washington's penalty kill is 11-for-11 over the past two games.

"Sometimes you've got to win in a variety of ways," Capitals winger Tom Wilson said.

Pittsburgh, which has won four of its past five games and is 9-3-2 over its past 14, has scored 27 goals over its past eight games.

Leading scorer Sidney Crosby has 15 points over those eight games, and the Penguins have been thrilled with the play of forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann, both acquired from Florida last month.

McCann -- playing on the top line with Crosby and Jake Guentzel -- had two goals, Bjugstad one against Boston.

"I think both of these guys are excited to be Penguins, and they're excited about the roles that we've put them in," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "They've done a great job for us."

Tuesday's game likely will feature a matchup of the teams' No. 1 goaltenders.

Washington's Braden Holtby is expected to play after being given a night off Sunday, with Phoenix Copley filling in well with 33 saves after sitting for two weeks.

Capitals coach Todd Reirden said Holtby has "played outstanding since the All-Star break. His work has been at a high level, and we've got a lot of games coming up. So we had to, at some point, make a decision of when to play Phoenix."

The Penguins are taking a different approach, choosing to ride Matt Murray, who has started eight games in a row, most recently back-to-back games over the weekend and three games in four nights.

"He's played really well," Sullivan said. "In my mind, he's deserving of it. He's a competitive kid. He knows how competitive these games are at this time of year. He wants the net."

Murray is fine with the workload.

"Physically, I feel really good," he said.

There are two milestones to watch for Tuesday. Washington winger Alex Ovechkin is one point away from 1,200 for his career. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is two points shy of 1,000.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 12, 2019

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