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PENGUINS vs CAPITOLS PREVIEW

on January 15, 2014 10:49 AM

WASHINGTON at PITTSBURGH

When and where — 8 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh

TV — NBC Sports

Radio — WCCS-AM 1160

Records — Penguins 33-12-2 (68 points, first place Metropolitan Division), Capitals 22-16-8 (52 points, second place Metropolitan Division)

Leading scorers — Penguins: Sidney Crosby (25 goals, 42 assists, 67 points); Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom (37 assists, 48 points), Alex Ovechkin (33 goals)

Season series — 1-0 Pittsburgh

Last meeting — The Penguins scored a 4-0 victory in Washington in the teams’ first meeting as Metropolitan Division rivals on Nov. 20. Paul Martin, Beau Bennett, Sidney Crosby and James Neal scored for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 18 shots for the shutout. Pittsburgh fired 40 shots on net.

Last time out — The Penguins closed a three-game western road trip with a 2-1 victory at Calgary on Saturday. Pittsburgh got five of a possible six standings points on the trip. … Washington lost to San Jose, 2-1, in a shootout at home on Tuesday. Alex Ovechkin scored the Capitals’ goal, and former Penguin Tyler Kennedy scored for the Sharks. Philipp Grubauer stopped 28 of 29 shots in regulation and overtime.

Notes — The Penguins’ only game of the week comes against an Eastern Conference rival, reunited in the Metropolitan Division starting this season. This is the second of four meetings. The other two come in a home-at-home series March 10 and 11 starting in Washington. … The Penguins’ 16-point edge on Washington is the largest gap in the league between a division leader and a second-place team. …

Winger James Neal (upper-body injury) missed his second straight practice Tuesday. His status is uncertain for tonight. Forward Nick Drazenovic was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Tuesday. … Winger Chris Kunitz has 10 points in his last seven games. Defenseman Matt Niskanen has six points in his last seven games. … Sidney Crosby leads the league in scoring, and is second in both goals and assists. Marc-Andre Fleury (26-10-1, .918 save percentage) leads the league in wins. He has won four in a row, five of six, 10 of 12 and 13 of 16.

About the Capitals — Washington has lost two straight games in shootouts, both by 2-1 scores. The Capitals are 2-2-4 in their last eight games. They are 4-2-2 in the second of games on back-to-back nights. Since Philipp Grubauer played in goal Tuesday, it’s likely Braden Holtby (13-11-2, .910 save percentage) or Michal Neuvirth (3-3-1, .916) gets the nod tonight. … Winger Alex Ovechkin has six points in his last six games. He leads the league in goals. … Starting tonight, Washington plays eight of nine games on the road.

Next — The Penguins play host to Florida on Monday.

— Eli Nellis

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