WASHINGTON — Although they’re taking part in their greatest hockey of the season, count on the Washington Capitals to search out somewhat one thing additional within the tank Wednesday when the Pittsburgh Penguins come to city for the subsequent chapter on this storied rivalry.
“It is all the time one thing you type of stay up for and learn about,” Washington coach Todd Reirden instructed reporters. “Our gamers are excited to play towards them. It is all the time a very good problem.”
The Capitals have gained 5 straight video games to solidify first place atop the Metropolitan Division behind the continued excellence of Alexander Ovechkin, who has seven objectives in his final three video games and 29 on the season.
“In fact, you need to have as many factors as you may,” Ovechkin stated after apply Monday. “However I all the time say, you may’t rating each recreation. You’ll be able to’t make factors each night time. It is arduous. The league is difficult proper now. For those who get a degree otherwise you get a objective, you get (fortunate). … I simply attempt to do my greatest.”
Ovechkin’s greatest has been greater than sufficient for the Capitals, as their captain’s play is elevating everybody’s degree throughout a run through which they’ve gained 12 of 13.
“The gamers are making it troublesome for our employees to select the fellows who needs to be taking part in every night time and that is a very good factor,” Reirden stated. “That inner competitors that we’ve got occurring proper now’s one thing that is allowed us to have the kind of success we have had the final 24, 25 video games. It is a good factor. It is a good downside to have.”
The Penguins have righted the ship after a sluggish begin, going Eight-Four-2 over their final 14 video games, however they continue to be inconsistent, as evidenced in a Four-2 loss to the Anaheim Geese on Monday through which they squandered a two-goal lead.
The loss highlighted a persistent downside for Pittsburgh: the second interval. Of their 18 defeats, the Penguins have a minus-18 objective differential.
“Hopefully we are able to get rid of among the unhealthy intervals right here and get again on a considerable profitable streak,” Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith instructed reporters after Monday’s recreation. “It is simply a part of the sport. Now we have to perform a little bit higher job of managing it and we’ll be in good condition.”
Whereas Braden Holtby figures to get the beginning for Washington, the Penguins goaltending scenario stays fluid between DeSmith and Matt Murray, particularly given the crew’s busy schedule over the subsequent few weeks.
“We’re attempting to maintain them each at their greatest by conserving them well-rested and sharp,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan instructed the crew’s web site. “Trying on the large image this week, each of them are going to get a big quantity of taking part in time.”
That is already the third recreation of the season between the Penguins and Capitals, with the groups splitting the prior two video games. Pittsburgh gained a 7-6 thriller on Oct. Four, whereas Washington captured a 2-1 victory on Nov. 7.
“Yeah, it is a large rivalry, with a lot of emotion,” Ovechkin stated. “Followers get entangled. You guys. It is a enjoyable time to play.”