The Pittsburgh Penguins are in the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Capitals tonight at 7:30 pm. This is the first of a tough back-to-back situation for the Penguins as they will faceoff against the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow night.
Tonight’s contest is the first time the two teams are meeting since the Penguins won a 2-0 decisive Game Seven in Washington in the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. As we all know the Penguins went on to win the ultimate prize for the second year in a row.
It’s the same old narrative for the Capitals and Penguins. Tonight the Capitals will be looking to get some payback, some sort of revenge. With a great start to the season, the Capitals have a 2-0-1 record. Their only loss was in overtime on Monday to the Lightning. Alex Ovechkin leads the way for them with seven goals in their first two games, recording back-to-back hat tricks. It will be critical for the Penguins to isolate him and keep his shooting lanes closed. This will keep Ovechkin at bay and make the Capitals use other means to get on the scoreboard.
However, even if the Penguins are able to stop Ovechkin, the Capitals are full of firepower. Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie are among them. The Penguins need to keep an eye out for them, but not lose sight of Ovechkin. He is known to sneak around and get open. The defense of the Penguins will have to vigilant and help support Matt Murray in the net.
|Phil Kessel celebrates a goal / MF (screenshot)|
As for the Penguins, their start to the season was a little rougher. They finally got their first win on Saturday against the Nashville Predators. The 4-0 victory was a physical battle for the Penguins, but they rose to the occasion. Matt Murray led the defense and posted his first shutout of the season. Now the Penguins need to build on that win and get some momentum going. The first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel have been clicking and the Capitals will be sure to put their top defensive pair on them. That will leave Evgeni Malkin’s line a little more open to get work down.
In addition, the Penguins will have to keep their heads in the game. The Capitals have been known to try and throw them off their game with physical attacks. They will need to weather that storm just like in their game against the Nashville Predators earlier this season. The atmosphere will surely be that of playoff hockey.
On the injury front, Patric Hornqvist is close to returning to the lineup after suffering a hand injury. He participated in contact practice on Monday and line rushes this morning. Also, Ian Cole joins the list with a mouth injury. I will keep you updated on his progress.
A side note, Kris Letang is only one point away from earning his 300 career points. He would join Paul Coffey as the only second blueliner in Penguins history.
Stay tuned for play-by-play updates for tonight’s game. Also, follow on Twitter and Facebook!