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Penguins at Capitals: What bettors need to know

Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals (+104, 5.5)

Metropolitan Division supremacy will be on the line Wednesday when Sidney Crosby and the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins visit Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. "It's good for the NHL because they're both faces of the NHL, they're both superstars in this league and they both sell the game extremely well," Washington's Troy Brouwer said. Ovechkin hasn't slowed down since winning his third Hart Trophy last season, scoring twice in Sunday's 4-1 triumph over St. Louis to pull into a tie with Blues stud Alexander Steen for the goal-scoring lead (17).

Washington has benefited from Ovechkin's scoring assault, winning three in a row and improving to 7-1-1 in its last nine to move within one point of Pittsburgh. The Penguins posted just their second win in six outings on Monday as Crosby scored and rookie Brian Gibbons celebrated his NHL debut with a goal and an assist in a 3-1 victory over Anaheim. Pittsburgh has won each of the last four meetings with Washington.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports, TSN2

ABOUT THE PENGUINS (13-8-0, 7-13 O/U): Evgeni Malkin was absent from Tuesday's practice with a maintenance day, but coach Dan Bylsma said he expects the former Hart Trophy winner to be in the lineup against Washington. Malkin's goalless streak reached 14 games on Monday, but he notched two assists for the second time in three contests. Bylsma noted that he plans to keep his lines intact, so Beau Bennett will remain in the top grouping with Crosby and Chris Kunitz.

ABOUT THE CAPITALS (12-8-1, 11-10 O/U):
Although Mike Green skated in practice on Tuesday, coach Adam Oates sounded as if he was going to keep his stud defenseman sidelined for a third straight game with a lower-body injury. "He's missed a lot of time and it's a big game," Oates said. "I don't want to put him in a situation where he's behind the 8-ball. He hasn't been able to do a lot of cardio, so I’m a little worried about his conditioning."


* Penguins are 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Washington.
* Home team is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Under is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings.


1. Washington C Nicklas Backstrom, who had three assists on Sunday, has scored three goals and set up nine others in his last nine contests.

2. Pittsburgh has killed off 21-of-22 short-handed situations in its last nine games.

3. Capitals G Braden Holtby made 46 saves against St. Louis, but has yielded 11 goals on 79 shots en route to an 0-3-0 career mark versus Pittsburgh.

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