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Capitals vs. Penguins Preview: Capital Improvements

The Caps come to town as the Pens continue to improve in this bounce-back week.

Pittsburgh Penguins Rickard Rakell vs. Washington Capitals
Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images.

Home once again, the Penguins are seeking to keep their recently improved play alive against their old rivals the Washington Capitals this Saturday night.


The trip out to the mid-west earlier this week was very good to the Pens as they halted their four game losing streak and found some vigor in the midst of the battle against the stout Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars. Both contests were dominated by Pittsburgh as they downed the Avs, 5-2, and won a moral victory in Dallas despite not getting the win by a 3-2 score. They did all this with a makeshift lineup composed of a number of reserve players filling in (Mark Friedman, Chad Ruhwedel, Taylor Fedun) for injured regulars making the turnaround all the more notable. The Pens' system has some depth to it, it can sustain main roster losses without floundering and is working its "next man up" philosophy successfully. These are good indicators for team going forward and perhaps to the post-season.


Now they pivot back home for the next team up as they face divisional play against the Caps in the third and final meeting of these teams for the regular season. Tonight's another national network TV showcase game, airing on ABC in the US. Tune in at 8 PM for the always exciting clash of the Pens and Caps!

Game Info:

Pens Game #73: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

Date: March 25, 2023

Time: 8 PM (ET)

Place: Pittsburgh, PA

Venue: PPG Paints Arena

Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #AllCaps


Broadcast Info:

National Broadcast: ABC

Online Stream: ESPN+

Penguins Radio: 105.9 The X/Penguins Radio Network

Capitals Radio: WJFK/CapsRadio24/7


Team Matchup:

Records- PIT: 35-27-10, WSH: 34-31-8

Last 10- PIT: 4-5-1, WSH: 4-4-2

Streaks- PIT: 1 Loss, WSH: 1 Win

Standings- PIT: 17th, WSH: 20th

Points- PIT: 80, WSH: 76

Playoff Positions-

PIT: Eastern Conference #8, 2nd Wildcard playoff spot.

WSH: Eastern Conference #10, 4 points out of 2nd Wildcard playoff spot.

Season Series- 1-1 Tie

Series Goals For- PIT: 6, WSH: 4


Team Analytics Comparison:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Analytics by JFresh Hockey.

Goalie Matchup:

Projected starting goalies:

-Casey DeSmith- #1

[Pittsburgh Penguins]

Bio Info: 6' 0", 181 lbs. DOB: 8/13/1991 (31). From: Rochester, NH.

Drafted: Undrafted; Experience: 5th Season.

Record: 13-15-4, 3.11 GAA, .907 SV%

Career vs. WSH: 3-1-1, 2.32 GAA, .915 SV%

🆚

-Darcy Kuemper- #35

[Washington Capitals]

Bio Info: 6' 5", 215 lbs. DOB: 5/5/1990 (32). From: Saskatoon, SK.

Drafted: 2006- Rd 6, Pk 160 (MIN). Experience: 11th Season.

Record: 21-22-5, 2.74 GAA, .912 SV%

Career vs. PIT: 3-3-1, 2.95 GAA, .911 SV%


Penguins Update:

Jason Zucker was missing from the gameday skate, but it appears he will in fact be in the lineup tonight nonetheless. Zucker was banged up on the recent road trip after blocking a shot. Alexander Nylander skated in his spot in line rushes. Expect Nylander to be the man tabbed to step in if Zuck is not available.

-2022-23 Penguins Team Leaders vs. Capitals-

Goals: Jake Guentzel, Danton Heinen, Brock McGinn*, Jeff Petry, Bryan Rust, Jason Zucker- 1.

Assists: Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel- 2.

Points: Jake Guentzel- 3.

Plus/Minus: Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Jeff Petry- +3.

Shots: Marcus Pettersson- 9.

Hits: Jeff Petry- 8.

Blocks: Kris Letang, Marcus Pettersson- 6.

Takeaways: Evgeni Malkin- 4.

Faceoff%: Jeff Carter- 75%.

PIM: Bryan Rust- 5.

(*Traded elsewhere)


-Injury Report-

-Nick Bonino (F): LTIR, lacerated kidney, out until 4/4.

-Dmitry Kulikov (D): LTIR, lower body, out until 4/6.

-Jeff Petry (D): upper body, unknown.

-Marcus Pettersson (D): LTIR, lower body, week-to-week.

-Jan Rutta (D): lower body, week-to-week.


-Pens Lines-

The projected Penguins lines for Saturday, March 25, 2023, vs. the Washington Capitals:


(Forwards)

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker (Alexander Nylander*) - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell

Danton Heinen - Ryan Poehling - Mikael Granlund

Drew O’Connor - Jeff Carter - Josh Archibald

[*=If needed]


(Defense)

P.O. Joseph - Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin - Chad Ruhwedel

Mark Friedman - Taylor Fedun


(Special Teams)

PP1: Letang, Malkin, Crosby, Rakell, Guentzel

PP2: Joseph, Zucker, Rust, Granlund, Carter

PK1: Poehling, Rust, Dumoulin, Ruhwedel

PK2: Granlund, Archibald, Friedman, Joseph


Capitals Update:

Capitals' starter Darcy Kuemper has five shutouts this season already. He's a legitimate threat to blank a team when he's hot.


This is a new Caps team this time around, as DC were major players at the trade deadline. That said they off-loaded a lot of talent in their recent changes. Washington sent Dmitry Orlov (D) and Garnet Hathaway (F) to Boston in particular which leaves two major factors now missing from this old rivalry. Orlov and Hathaway always loomed large in these meetings so their loss could be a major factor today.


-Trade Deadline Movements-

Key players added: Forward- Craig Smith. Defense- Rasmus Sandin.

Key players lost: Forward- Lars Eller, Garnet Hathaway, Marcus Johansson. Defense- Erik Gustafsson, Dmitry Orlov.


-2022-23 Capitals Team Leaders vs. Penguins-

Goals: Marcus Johansson*- 2.

Assists: Sonny Milano- 2.

Points: Marcus Johansson*, Sonny Milano- 2.

Plus/Minus: Nicklas Backstrom- +1.

Shots: Evgeni Kuznetsov, Alexander Ovechkin- 8.

Hits: Garnet Hathaway*- 11.

Blocks: Nick Jensen, Trevor van Riemsdyk- 6.

Takeaways: Dylan Strome- 3.

Faceoff%: Lars Eller- 66.7%

PIM: Trevor van Riemsdyk- 5.

(*Traded elsewhere)

-Injury Report-

-Connor Brown (F): LTIR, lower body, out indefinitely.

-Carl Hagelin (F): LTIR, hip, out for 2022-23.


The Living Legends: Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. This rivalry just brings out the best in these two, as does this time of year. So it’s no surprise the faces of the NHL for the last two decades are the ones to watch today, although it’s a slightly uncreative selection at this point in their storied careers. Springtime, just ahead of the playoffs, is when Crosby and Ovi bloom annually and this year is no exception. Ovechkin is on a six-game point streak, registering 10 points in that span. He's also on a three-game goal streak. On the Pittsburgh side, Crosby has spearheaded this recent Penguins' recovery. He led the path to successfully reigniting the Pens' play with goals in the last two games including his first-ever goal scored in Dallas. Watch the two Captains this Saturday as they're sure to shine and enjoy the fact we still get the gift of seeing these living legends duel on the ice.


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