NHL hockey action on Thursday evening and we will see a pair of heated rivals from the Metro Division will square off as the Washington Capitals grapple with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This contest has a start time 7:00 PM ET and will take place at PPG PAINTS Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. These teams split the four regular-season meetings last year.
No Title Hangover For The Caps
The Washington Capitals finally won the Stanley Cup last year and on Wednesday night they had their banner raising ceremony. Sometimes teams will not be able to handle all the distractions, but the Capitals got through it with flying colors as they routed the Boys From Beantown by a score of 7-0. They now have to hope that they didn’t spend all their emotion on that game as they have a quick turnaround game against a very good Pittsburgh team tonight.
Washington came out quick as they scored two goals in the first 1:47 of the game and never looked back. Leading their attack in the game was Evgeny Kuznetsov, who scored twice in the win. Also scoring was T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin, Nic Dowd, John Carlson, and Lars Eller. Braden Holtby has owned the Bruins in his career and is now at 15-2 against the Bruins after the win on Wednesday night. He stopped all 25 shots that he faced in the game for the 33rd shutout of his career. The Caps have to be careful here as the Pens are out for revenge after getting knocked out by Washington in the playoffs last year.
Washington may turn to Braden Holtby in this one and he was 34-20 with a 2.99 GAA and a .907 save percentage a year ago, including 12-11 with a 3.90 GAA and a .8.89 save percentage out on the road. In his career, he has gone 101-67 with a 2.65 GAA and a .913 save percentage on the road and 8-11 with a 2.90 GAA and a .911 save percentage against the Penguins. He is slated to start opening night and if he doesn’t play in this one then it will be Phoenix Copley and he has played just two career games (both for the Blues) in the NHL. He has a 4.32 GAA in those games.
Penguins Will Be Seeking Revenge
The Pittsburgh Penguins were knocked out of the playoff last year by the Washington Capitals, who went on to win the whole kit and kaboodle. The Pens had won the previous two Stanley Cup Titles and each year they knocked the Capitals out of the postseason. Washington got revenge last year and now the Penguins will be seeking some of their own at the start of this year. They are in a good spot as the Caps are playing on Wednesday night, while this will be Pittsburgh’s first game. The biggest losses for the Pens were Conor Sheary and Tom Kuhnhackl, but this team is still loaded with offensive firepower. Sidney Crosby (29 goals, 60 assists), Jake Guentzel (22 goals, 26 assists), and Patric Hornqvist (29 goals, 20 assists), will lead the top line. Crosby has called out Tom Wilson for all the illegal hits.
Evgeni Malkin (42 goals, 56 assists), Patric Hornqvist (29 goals, 20 assists), and Phil Kessel (34 goals, 58 assists) are along the second line. That is a lot of offensive weapons in just the first two lines they could top the 3.29 gpg they put up last year, which was 3rd in the league. Matt Murray is back to run the crease, while Casey DeSmith will be his backup. The pens were not great on the defensive end of the ice as they allowed 3.02 gpg, which was 20th in the league. Still, this is a team that is ready for another strong run at an NHL title.
Getting the nod for the Penguins will be Matt Murray and he was 27-19 with a 2.92 GAA and a .907 save percentage last year, including 17-7 with a 2.80 GAA and a .915 save percentage here at home. In his career, he has gone 38-14 with a 2.60 GAA and a.920 save percentage here at PPG PAINTS Arena and 4-4 with a 3.66 GAA and a.882 save percentage against the Caps in the regular season.
- 25-8 in their last 33 games playing on 3 or more days rest
- 98-36 in their last 134 home games
- 2-5 in their last 7 Thursday game