Published on February 7th, 2013 | by James Conley0
Penguins Precap 11 – Washington Capitals
The Penguins take on the Washington Capitals Thursday at CONSOL Energy Center, the second of three meetings between the clubs and just the fourth Pittsburgh home tilt in the team’s first 11 contests.
Pittsburgh will try to reach .500 on home ice and extend their current win streak to five games.
The Capitals, losers of two straight and four of their last five, will look to improve upon their league-worst 2-7-1 record. Pittsburgh beat Washington 6-3 on D.C. Sunday on four goals from Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby’s three-assist night.
Pittsburgh has won four straight after dropping three in four, committing themselves to team defense in response to a series of bad losses to fringe-playoff teams. In those four wins, the Penguins have outscored their opponents 18-6.
Special teams have also improved since the losing skid. The Penguins are 4-for-15 (26 percent) on the man-advantage since moving James Neal back to his old spot on the power play rotation, and the penalty killing unit has 16 of its last 17 chances against, including all seven shorthanded opportunities Tuesday against the Islanders.
The streak has been fueled largely by the team’s top line. Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis are responsible for six goals and 19 total points in the last four games.
Washington, conversely, is hurting. The Capitals rank in the bottom-third of the league in goals for (2.3 per game), goals against (3.6 per game) and penalty killing (74.5 percent success).
They are so far winless on the road at 0-3-1.
While the Capitals haven’t been without their scoring chances early on, the lack of proper training camp is clearly having its effect on the team, which features some new personnel and is under its third bench boss in the last year.
Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Boychuk – Malkin – Neal
Kennedy – Sutter – Cooke
Glass – Vitale – Adams
Orpik – Martin
Engelland – Bortuzzo
Despres – Reese
A win at home will leapfrog the Penguins back ahead of the Boston Bruins, who took possession of first place in the East with Wednesday’s win over the Canadiens.