Pittsburgh Penguins (+105) at Washington Capitals (-116, 5 o/u)
Last week, the usually-high-scoring Pittsburgh Penguins (34-17-9, 77 pts) were mired in an offensive slump, scoring just one goal in three straight losses. On the weekend, Sidney Crosby and company found their touch around the net, winning two straight (over St. Louis and Florida) and scoring nine goals in the process.
Tonight, the Penguins will look to stay hot when they visit the nation’s capital to face the Washington Capitals (33-18-10, 76 pts) at the Verizon Center (8:00 p.m. Eastern).
Despite the recent scoring woes, Pittsburgh comes in a confident team.
“It doesn’t matter what team we play. If we play right and play our game, we’ll beat any team in the league,” center Evgeni Malkin said. “We showed the last two games how we can play. We need to keep that same focus.”
Washington, meanwhile, saw a four-game win streak come to an end with a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
“I thought we started off a little slow,” said Washington coach Barry Trotz. “We just weren’t sharp, and they forced us not to be sharp.”
The Capitals are currently just one point back of Pittsburgh for third in the Metropolitan Division. With just over 20 games remaining in the season, these head-to-head matchups become crucial in the fight for playoff positioning.
Washington has dominated the head-to-head with Pittsburgh this year, posting a perfect 3-0-0 record. But Trotz certainly isn’t going to underestimate what is still one of the most skilled lineups in the league.
“The [last two games] you’re starting to see the true Pittsburgh Penguin team,” said the Caps coach. “I think there’s a little bit of a rivalry that’s starting to develop again. I think both teams will be ramped up.”
Pittsburgh is +105 in the money line to get the win, and the Capitals are -116; the game over/under is at 5.
With Niklas Backstrom (who is tied for the NHL points lead) and Alex Ovechkin (who leads the league in goals) firing on all cylinders, and the Pens seeming to re-locate their scoring touch, consider the over for tonight’s game.
(Photo credit: Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)