Washington at Pittsburgh
When: 7:30 PM
ET, Saturday, December 27, 2014
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Scratch one Christmas wish for Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston, who was hoping the three-day holiday break would help bring back some reinforcements for his depleted roster. Instead, Pittsburgh announced that forward Steve Downie and backup netminder Thomas Greiss were diagnosed with mumps in advance of Saturday's matchup against the visiting Washington Capitals. The Penguins have won eight in a row versus the Capitals, including five straight in Pittsburgh.
Washington's nine-game point streak (7-0-2) was halted in a 4-2 loss at the New York Rangers. The brief hiatus came at a perfect time for the Capitals with back-to-back road games at Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders looming before the Winter Classic matchup against visiting Chicago on New Year's Day. "We all feel really confident right now and we’re starting to climb in the standings," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "It’s been kind of a perfect storm with important games, the Winter Classic coming up. It’s all coming together."
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports, ROOT (Pittsburgh)
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (17-11-6): Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who spent his first 11 seasons with the Penguins, will face his former team for the first time since signing a five-year, $27.5 million contract with Washington in the offseason. The 34-year-old Orpik, who was a key component on the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2009, has played in all 34 games with the Capitals - registering seven assists and a plus-5. "He's been great,” Capitals forward Troy Brouwer said of Orpik. “He changed us immediately, from Day 1. He has a presence about him.”
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (22-7-5): Playing with 10 players on injured reserve and three more sidelined by illness, Pittsburgh dropped a pair of one-goal decisions at Florida and Tampa Bay prior to the break - its first back-to-back losses since Nov. 21-22. Brandon Sutter tested negative for the mumps and may be available Saturday to bolster a lineup that on Tuesday featured nine players who opened the season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Evgeni Malkin has 11 points in eight games to take over the team scoring lead.
1. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, limited to one goal in his last 11, has 17 goals and 50 points in 29 games versus Washington.
2. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has lit up Pittsburgh with 23 goals in 35 games.
3. The Penguins have killed off 39-of-43 penalties in the past 11 games.
PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Capitals 3
Stats and Records