Preview: Pittsburgh at Washington

When: 7:15 PM  ET, Saturday, May 6, 2017
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, District Of Columbia
Matchup Edge
PIT Edge in: WAS
Offense
Defense
Power Play
Penalty Kill
Face Offs
Discipline
Goaltending


The visiting Pittsburgh Penguins may be getting a familiar face back in the lineup for Game 5 at the Verizon Center on Saturday when they bid to eliminate the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals for the second time in as many years. Captain Sidney Crosby skated alongside his teammates and was a full participant in drills during practice on Friday, four days after sustaining the reported fourth concussion of his career.

While Crosby uttered a diplomatic "We'll see" when asked about his availability for Game 5, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was quick to add that his day-to-day status "hasn't changed at all." The lack of change also describes the one-sided playoff rivalry between Pittsburgh and Washington, with the former winning seven of the previous eight series - and going on to capture the Stanley Cup after the last two (2009, 2016). While the Penguins own a 13-3 mark when leading a best-of-seven series by a 3-1 margin, the Capitals perhaps showed some desperation by shuffling captain Alex Ovechkin to the third line in practice on Friday. "(We're) here to do whatever it takes to get the win and move forward," the three-time Hart Trophy winner told the Washington Post after skating with Lars Eller and Tom Wilson. "I don't think it's to send a message or something."

TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS

ABOUT THE PENGUINS: Crosby wasn't the only Pittsburgh forward making a return to practice on Friday as Conor Sheary also hit the ice after sustaining a concussion in Monday's Game 3. The 24-year-old Sheary has struggled to maintain his scoring pace since being bumped from the top line alongside Crosby, answering a 23-goal, 53-point regular season with just two assists in eight playoff contests. Rookie Jake Guentzel continued his scintillating postseason by recording his fourth multi-point performance on Wednesday, increasing his goal total to eight to join Maurice "Rocket" Richard (12 in 1944), Mario Lemieux (11 in 1989) and Wayne Gretzky (nine in 1980-81) with at least that many tallies in his first nine career playoff games. 

ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Although Ovechkin publicly accepted the blame after Barry Trotz called out his team's best players in the wake of Washington being pushed to the brink of elimination, others could be construed to be in the coach's line of fire. Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby has been outplayed by counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury, with the former recording a 3.00 goals-against average and .867 save percentage in the series. T.J. Oshie, Ovechkin's linemate, has been consistent with a career high-tying 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in as many postseason games this season and nine points (five goals, four assists) in 10 playoff encounters versus Pittsburgh.

OVERTIME

1. Pittsburgh C Evgeni Malkin is riding a three-game point streak (two goals, three assists) and has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in five home playoff contests.

2. Washington C Evgeny Kuznetsov has scored a goal in back-to-back contests to increase his playoff point total to seven (four goals, three assists), matching his career high set in 2014-15.

3. Pittsburgh D Justin Schultz registered his first career game-winning goal in the playoffs on Wednesday, giving him tallies in back-to-back contests and extending his point streak to three games (two goals, two assists).

PREDICTION: Capitals 4, Penguins 3

Stats and Records

Team Comparison

W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Pittsburgh 57-22-7-5 L2 35-6-3-2 22-16-4-3 5-2-0-0 52-20-7-5 27-9-2-1
Washington 60-22-5-5 L1 34-9-2-1 26-13-3-4 7-3-0-1 53-19-5-4 19-10-2-3

Last Meeting

Pittsburgh Washington
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
5/3/17 WAS 2 PIT 3 18 36 1-5 38 15 0-4

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
PIT J. Guentzel 2
WAS M. Johansson 1
Goals Player  
PIT J. Guentzel 1
WAS E. Kuznetsov 1
Assists Player  
PIT M. Cullen 1
WAS M. Johansson 1
Saves Player  
PIT M. Fleury 36
WAS B. Holtby 15
Season
Total Points Player  
PIT S. Crosby 89
WAS N. Backstrom 86
Goals Player  
PIT S. Crosby 44
WAS T. Oshie 33
Assists Player  
PIT P. Kessel 47
WAS N. Backstrom 63
Saves Player  
PIT M. Murray 1339
WAS B. Holtby 1563

Quickchart Matchup

Pittsburgh Off vs  Washington Def
3.44 GF
2.25 GA
33.1 Shots
28.1 Shots
67 PP
49 PK
Washington Off vs  Pittsburgh Def
3.13 GF
2.76 GA
31 Shots
33 Shots
65 PP
57 PK

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Pittsburgh Overall Washington
57-22-7-5 W/L 60-22-5-5
46-45 ATS 37-55
51-35 O/U 40-37
3.44 Goals For 3.13
2.76 Goals Agnst 2.25
Pittsburgh A/H Washington
22-16-4-3 W/L 34-9-2-1
22-23 ATS 20-26
24-20 O/U 18-22
3.11 Goals For 3.15
2.98 Goals Agnst 1.80
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