Game 22 Preview: Penguins Vs. Capitals

By: Casey Shea

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking to continue their winning ways when they go on the road to take on the Washington Capitals tonight.

Despite not registering a shot for the first 18 minutes of the game Monday night, the Penguins earned a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Marc-Andre Fleury (12-6-0, 2.00 GAA .921 save percentage) was superb in the contest, especially in the first period while his teammates tried to figure out a way to generate offense at the other end.

Fleury stopped 24 shots in the contest, including all 12 he faced in the first period.

Neither team lit the lamp through 40 minutes of play, but that would all change in the third period. The two teams combined for four goals in a span of 4:04.

Brian Gibbons, Brandon Sutter and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins, while Ryan Getzlaf got the only goal for the Ducks.

Now, the Penguins’ attention shifts to Metropolitan Division rival Washington.

First place in the division will be on the line tonight with the Penguins holding a slim one-point lead over the Capitals.

Alex Ovechkin has been on a tear to start the season and appears to have regained his goal-scoring touch.

Ovechkin is tied with Alexander Steen for the league lead in goals with 17. He is also tied for the team lead in points (24) with Nicklas Backstrom (five goals, 19 assists).

The Capitals got off to a slow start this season, but have turned it on recently. In the month of November, Washington is 7-1-1 and enter tonight’s game having won their last three games.

As a team, the Capitals have scored 69 goals this season, which is the most of any team in the Eastern Conference.

In goal, Braden Holtby has been the go-to guy this year. In 17 games, Holtby has posted a 10-6-0 record with a 2.62 GAA and a .925 save percentage.

Against the Penguins, Holtby is 0-3 with a 4.53 GAA and a .861 save percentage.

For the Penguins, Crosby (10 goals, 16 assists) is tied with Steen for the league-lead in points (26).

While Evgeni Malkin failed to score a goal for a 14th straight game on Monday, he played an integral role in setting up Gibbons for the first goal of the contest. He would also add another assist on Crosby’s goal. He is second on the team with 20 points (three goals, 17 assists).

Malkin may not be scoring, but he’s setting up teammates. The goals will come, but as long as he continues to rack up assists, can you really complain about his game?

Let’s hypothetically assume he racks up 90 points this season with 75-80 assists. That just means he set up a ton of goals. At the end of the day, the scoreboard only counts how many goals the team scored, not how many Malkin got himself. If the puck is going into the net and Malkin still has a hand in it, who cares?

Anyway, Fleury is likely to get the start tonight against the Capitals. For his career, Fleury is 13-7-2 with a 2.60 GAA and .912 save percentage against Washington.

The puck is set to drop at 8 p.m. and you can watch the game on NBC Sports Network.

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