Pittsburgh Penguins (42-17-4) at Washington Capitals (30-25-10)
|Date & Time||Monday March 10, 2014, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Washington Capitals +119 / Pittsburgh Penguins -131 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
Monday night's contest between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins means more for the home club than the visitors. Washington finds themselves one point out of the final wild card berth in the Eastern Conference but with more than a half dozen teams in the mix there's no margin for error. The Capitals got a much needed victory on Saturday night when they snapped a three game losing streak on home ice against the Phoenix Coyotes. It didn't come easy for the Capitals who allowed allowed a goal in each of the first two periods and found themselves trailing 2-0 heading into the final frame. Washington got on the board just prior to the midway point of the third period one Karl Alzner's second goal of the season and they came out on the next shift and evened things up just 32 seconds later when Brooks Laich found the back of the net. The Capitals kept working and were able to draw a tripping penalty on David Moss that proved to be the difference in the game. Troy Brouwer banged in a rebound from a Nicklas Backstrom shot with the Washington on the power play and the Capitals held on for the 3-2 victory. Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves to pick up the win and it will be interesting to see just how Washington head coach Adam Oates plays things down the stretch with a new goaltender in the fold. Braden Holtby has been the No. 1 this season but it's clear that George McPhee and this organization didn't fully believe in him with this acquisition of Halak. Alexander Ovechkin is still going to be the biggest reason why the Capitals do or don't make the post season and it should be a lot of fun watching him renew his rivalry with Sidney Crosby in this one.
Pittsburgh has been running away with the Metropolitan Division for a long time and once again their general manager did a great job of adding pieces to his hockey club that he hopes will put them over the top come the spring. The moves were more depth oriented this time around for Ray Shero but in the post season there's always guys getting banged up that need to miss some time if you're going to survive four rounds on your way to a Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh has been up and down a litle bit as of late and it's coincided with some stiffer competition and a challenging road trip. Now the Penguins have to travel back east and take on the Capitals at the Verizon Center before returning home to Pittsburgh to finish up the home and home on Tuesday night. Friday night it took extra time but the Penguins were able to skate out of the Honda Center with a 3-2 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks. Evgeni Malkin's goal in the third period evened the score and Crosby, Chris Kunitz, and Brandon Sutter all scored in the skills competition to lift the Penguins to the win. There's no question the Penguins are loaded again this year and they've been the best team in the Eastern Conference but we'll have to see how not playing many meaningful games effects them heading into the post season. Crosby picked up his 55th assist of the season in the victory.
With two games against each other the next two days these clubs might get a little chippy. There's no disputing they don't like one another and Washington will have some heightened intrigue for this one with their playoff hopes on the line. It's always hard to sweep a team in a home and home and it's going to be tough for Washington to head to Pittsburgh on Tuesday and pick up a win. The Capitals better hope they can find a way to get two points on Monday night at home or else they could be in dire straight come Wednesday morning.