Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Washington Capitals hosting the Pittsburgh Pengins on Rivalry Night at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• Last game: Both last played on Sunday…PIT won at home over FLA, 5-1…WSH lost at PHI, 3-2.
• WSH sits in the 1st wild card spot in the East, 9 points ahead of BOS (2nd WC).
• PIT won its division the last 2 seasons, but has never won 3 straight division titles (currently in 47th season).
• PIT: 7-11-4 vs. Metropolitan Division teams this season
• No other team currently in a playoff position has below a .500 points% within its own division.
• Caps dominating Pens this season (Potential Playoff Meeting?): This is the 4th and final meeting of the season; Washington has beaten Pittsburgh in all 3 previous meetings this season, scoring 3+ goals in each game and outscoring the Pens 10-1 including 2 shutouts…PIT was last swept by WSH in season series in 2009-10 (0-2-2).
• 3 of the top 6 scorers in the league will be on display in this one, including the league’s top goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 38 goals.
• Since Nicklas Backstrom entered the league in 2007-08, his teammate Alex Ovechkin leads the league in goals & points – Evgeni Malkin & Sidney Crosby rank 2nd & 3rd (Crosby 2nd in points; Malkin in goals – the other 3rd in each)…Backstrom ranks 8th in both goals & points.
• However, Crosby leads all NHLers in points/game since ’07-08 (Malkin – 2nd, Ovi – 3rd).
• 4 of 10 players with 550+ points since ’07-08
• Feb. for both clubs…WSH has gone 8-4-0 in the month…PIT is 6-4-1 in Feb.
• PIT comes in looking to win 3 straight for the first time since Dec. 15-20.
• WSH looks to win for the 5th time in the last 6 games (4-1-0 in last 5).
PITTSBURGH TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• PIT power play: 0-for-the-month (0-20) until its last 2 games when it went 1-3 in each (2-26 on PP in Feb.).
• Sidney Crosby is one goal shy of reaching the 20-goal mark for the 8th time in his 10-season career.
• Crosby had 2 assists vs. FLA to improve his points/game to 1.09 (1st in NHL).
• Evgeni Malkin recorded his first 2goal-1assist game of the season vs. FLA.
• He has 5 points (3G-2A) during a 3-game point streak.
• Career vs. WSH: 39 points (9G-30A) in 28 games
• Kris Letang had an assist vs. FLA to continue his hot stretch. He is tied with CGY’s Mark Giordano for most points among defensemen (47) and leads all blueliners in assists (37).
• Letang is 1 goal & 3 pts away from tying his career high in both (11G last season, 50 pts in 2010-11).
• Patric Hornqvist posted 2 goals & 1 assist vs. FLA to match a career high for points in a game (last done on Nov. 8 at BUF). The 1st-year Penguin is 2 goals & 1 assist shy of his 4th career 20-20 season.
• Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 34 of 35 shots vs. FLA for his 27th victory of the season.
• Fleury has allowed no more than 2 goals in each of his last 7 starts dating back to Feb. 4:
• 4-2-1 record, 1.00 GAA, .964 SV%
• Career vs. WSH: 16-10-2, 2.48 GAA, .916 SV%
• Fleury leads the league in shutouts with a career-high/franchise-record 8 this season
• The Rangers (9), Wild & Canucks (both 8) are the only teams w/ as many clean sheets as Fleury
• Braden Holtby (WSH), Ryan Miller (VAN) & Devan Dubnyk (MIN) are t-2nd with 6 shutouts.
WASHINGTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• Alex Ovechkin (goals) & Nicklas Backstrom (assists & pts) are at the top of the league rankings this season.
• Despite 0 points in his last 2 games, Ovi still has 11 points (6G-5A) in his last 8 games.
• Ovi leads the NHL in Feb. with 9 goals and 16 points.
• Backstrom’s 4-game point streak was snapped at PHI but he has 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 5 games.
• The highest Backstrom has ever finished in the scoring race is 4th when he had 101 points back in 2009-10 (Ovi finished t-2nd that season w/ 109)… The highest Backstrom has ever finished in assists was 3rd – done 4 times. His career high in both was set in the 2009-10 season (68A-101PTS).
• Last season Sidney Crosby (PIT) led the league in assists (68) & points (104).
• Ovechkin has won the Rocket Richard Trophy 4 times including each of the last 2 seasons.
• Six players have won the league’s goal-scoring title 5 or more times including Maurice Richard himself.
• Ovechkin has won the Art Ross Trophy once in his career (2007-08) – it is the only season a Capitals player has ever led the league in scoring.
Ovechkin was the last player to win both the Rocket Richard and Art Ross Trophy in the same season, doing so in 2007-08 with 65 goals and 112 points (both career highs)…Jarome Iginla in 2001-02 with CGY is the only other player to have won both awards in the same season.
• Ovechkin is a 3-time Hart Trophy winner (MVP) – 2012-13, 2008-09, 2007-08.
• No two teammates have more points this season than Ovechkin & Backstrom (125).
• Not since Joe Thornton (assists & points) & Jonathan Cheechoo (goals), in 2005-06 as members of the Sharks, had two teammates ended the season leading the league in each of those categories.
• Braden Holtby has started the Caps last 4 games and despite giving up 3 goals vs. PHI, he has allowed only 7 goals total in those 4 starts (1.73 GAA, .938 SV%)