Washington Capitals (20-12-4) v. Pittsburgh Penguins (23-10-2)
7:00 PM EST – Verizon Center – Washington, D.C.
TV/Radio: CSN-DC; Caps Radio 1500
Last game: The Capitals of old returned in a 5-1 rout of the New Jersey Devils Tuesday. Andrew Gordon scored his first career NHL goal, while Jay Beagle, Jason Chimera, John Carlson and Mike Knuble also scored.
Possible lineup for Washington:
Possible lineup for Pittsburgh:
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke – Evgeni Malkin – Max Talbot
Chris Conner – Mark Letestu – Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp – Craig Adams – Arron Asham
Brooks Orpik – Kris Letang
Paul Martin – Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski – Deryk Engelland
Marc-Andre Fleury/Brent Johnson
Outlook: The wait is over. After all of the hype surrounding the Winter Classic and its HBO spinoff, the Capitals and Penguins will meet for the first time the season just nine days before their date at Heinz Field. Both teams enter the game on two-game winning streaks, but the Capitals have won just two of 10 while the Penguins have won 14 of 16.
Matt Bradley will miss at least two weeks with a broken finger. His absence, along with the return of Eric Fehr and Matt Hendricks, will provide serious competition for spots on the checking lines. Gordon and Beagle both scored Tuesday and have played well. Head coach Bruce Boudreau has taken notice and knows that the pressure will be on several players to set themselves apart.
The “Young Guns” (Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green) have been silent on the scoresheet lately, but will need to awaken Thursday when Sidney Crosby & Co. invade Verizon Center. Crosby leads the NHL in goals and points and is currently on a 22-game point streak, the longest in 18 years. Despite the Caps’ 8-2-2 regular season record over the Penguins since 2007-2008, Washington will have to play their best game of the season in order to win against the NHL’s second-best team.