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Rivalry Time! Caps and Penguins Battle for First
Alex Ovechkin has 17 goals this season in 19 games. (Caps Outsider)
The Capitals took over 1st place in the Metropolitan Division with a big win over the Blues on Sunday night. The game pitted two players who have gotten off to hot starts so far this season in Alex Ovechkin and Alex Steen. Ovechkin outshined Steen at the Verizon Center, chipping in two goals while Steen was held without a point. The win gave the Caps 25 points on the year, passing the Pittsburgh Penguins for tops in the division.
Pittsburgh really separated themselves early in the season thanks to a 7-1-0 start, but are just 5-7-0 since. The Penguins’ slump has allowed teams like Washington, Carolina, and the New York Rangers to catch up in the division race. The Rangers and Hurricanes come into tonight’s action only four points back of Pittsburgh. Carolina has Boston at home tonight, while Pittsburgh hosts Anaheim. Both Boston and Anaheim sit in 2nd place in their respective conferences heading into Monday’s games.
Sidney Crosby continues to lead the Penguins to near the top of the standings and leads the league in points at the quarter mark of the regular season. However, Crosby has only two points in his last five games (a goal against the Flyers and an assist against the Predators).
Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s Penguins-Ducks game, the Capitals’ home date with Pittsburgh on Wednesday night will be for first in the Metropolitan Division barring a possible point coming from an overtime loss for either team. Each team has a dynamite center/wing combo on their top lines (Washington’s Nick Backstom/Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby/Chris Kunitz). Surprisingly, Evgeni Malkin is stuck at three goals and has not scored in his last five games. Jussi Jokinen has stepped up for Pittsburgh so far this season with eight goals.
Count Wednesday night as another installment of Capitals-Penguins with plenty at stake. Although it’s early, these two clubs figure to be at the top of the standings when the season ends and every head-to-head matchup is key to get a leg up in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference standings. The Capitals host the Penguins Wednesday night at 8 p.m.
Here’s Ovie the Bulldog getting ready for Wednesday’s game.