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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, January 15th (All times Eastern)
Washington Capitals (22-16-8) at Pittsburgh Penguins (33-12-2), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A meeting between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin is usually big enough on its own.
The fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins can post the longest home winning streak in franchise history only adds more intrigue to Wednesday's matchup with the Washington Capitals.
The Penguins return home from a 2-0-1 road trip out west having won 12 straight as the hosting club. That matches the record set between Feb. 22- March 30 of last season.
Pittsburgh also comes in well rested, having been off since winning a 2-1 decision in Calgary on Saturday. Marc-Andre Fleury came up with 27 saves and both Chris Kunitz and Matt Niskanen had goals.
The Penguins, who are 6-1-1 in their last eight games, had scored 18 non- shootout goals in their previous four games while allowing 15.
"It was nice to have a nice, low-scoring game," said Fleury. "The last few games were a little crazy. We have a lot of guys who can score goals, but if we want to be successful we have to do well defensively."
Pittsburgh will play its next three at home, where it has not lost since Nov. 13 and is 19-3-0 this season. The Pens also get some rest after this contest as their next game isn't until Monday versus Florida.
Even with the recent days off, Penguins forward James Neal is day-to-day and questionable for tonight with an upper-body ailment that has held him out of practice the last two days.
Neal has 17 goals and 36 points in 27 games this season and notched a goal and an assist in Pittsburgh's 4-0 win over hosting Washington on Nov. 20. Fleury recorded an 18-save shutout, improving to 14-7-2 with a 2.49 goals against average in his career versus the Capitals.
Pittsburgh bested Washington for the fifth consecutive game and the Capitals have lost three straight in the Steel City following an eight-game series road win streak.
Crosby and Paul Martin also had a goal and an assist in the November victory, while Ovechkin was held to just two shots.
Crosby leads the NHL with 67 points and is second with 42 assists. He has logged eight goals and 25 points over a 16-game home point streak and has tallied five goals and 22 points in 12 career home meetings with the Capitals.
The former Hart Trophy winner has 45 points in 26 career games versus Washington, while Ovechkin has 22 goals and 40 points in 32 career games against the Penguins.
Ovechkin notched his league-leading 33rd goal of the season in last night's 2-1 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. However, Ovechkin, Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom all failed on their attempts in the tiebreaker, while San Jose's Patrick Marleau had the lone shootout goal.
"It was a good test for us. A good team. They've been together for a long time," said Ovechkin. "I think we had good chances to win the game in (regulation), in the third period, but we got the point."
Rookie Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves as he started for the 12th time in Washington's past 17 games. He is 6-2-5 with a 2.06 GAA and .936 save percentage in 14 games (12 starts) this season.
Though Washington has now followed up two straight wins with back-to-back shootout losses, the point moved the Capitals into a tie with Philadelphia for second place in the Metropolitan Division. Both teams trail Pittsburgh by 16 points for the top spot.
Washington will play three straight and eight of its next nine on the road, where it is 8-8-4 on the season.
Braden Holtby got the start in Washington's first meeting with Pittsburgh this season, giving up all four goals on 40 shots faced.
01/15 10:29:41 ET
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