There’s no shortage of storylines heading into tonight’s big Washington-Pittsburgh game at Verizon (NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET).
There’s also tremendous optimism in Washington, thanks to a 6-1-0 start, clashing with concern out of Pittsburgh, where the Penguins are just 4-4-0 and hamstrung by a sputtering offense.
Oh yeah, there’s also the fact both are expected to be in the thick of the Eastern Conference title chase this spring — and could very well face each other come playoff time.
“A lot of years, it’s been like this,” Nicklas Backstrom added. “Everybody’s been talking about it around here. There’s a little more excitement, I’d say it was like a playoff game.”
Both teams should be plenty fresh for tonight’s tilt. Pittsburgh hasn’t played since beating the Preds in Nashville on Saturday, and Washington has been off even longer — since Friday, when it beat Edmonton 7-4 at Rexall.
As for the lines for tonight’s game, the Caps will roll with their usual units. Justin Williams missed Tuesday’s practice due to illness, but will skate in his regular spot on the second line with Backstrom and Marcus Johansson.
As for Pittsburgh, here’s what head coach Mike Johnston rolled out on Tuesday: