Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Washington Capitals hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• Tuesday night – PIT def. WPG 5-3: This win snapped PIT’s 4-game losing streak (0-2-2 record).
• Neither Sidney Crosby (lower-body) nor Evgeni Malkin (lower-body) played yesterday.
• Crosby was forced to sit out yesterday because he skipped the All-Star Game, but he practiced in Tuesday’s morning skate and could return tonight.
• Malkin has been placed on IR, and he has not played since a 3-2 (OT) loss to PHI on Jan. 20.
• The Pens are now 9-0-1 in their last 10 games in which both Crosby and Malkin HAVE NOT played, dating back to 2011.
• Patric Hornqvist (lower-body – missed 11 games) and Kris Letang (head – missed 1 game) returned to the lineup last night and provided an instant boost for PIT.
• Hornqvist hadn’t played since Dec. 27, and scored his 14th goal (empty-net goal) this season.
• Letang missed last Wednesday’s game after taking a hard check from Zac Rinaldo the day before (Rinaldo was suspended 8 games for the hit). In his return last night, Letang assisted on all 5 Penguins goals – a career high for both assists and points in a game. He is the first defenseman with 5 assists in a game since Dion Phaneuf for CGY in Dec. 2007.
• Lapierre, 29, is in 10th NHL season (now 5th NHL team). Pens GM Jim Rutherford cited Lapierre’s grit, playoff history, and ability to replace Goc on the penalty kill as reasons for the deal (see pg.3 for quotes).
• Washington hitting a slide: The Caps have now lost 4 straight games (0-3-1 record) following their 4-3 loss in Columbus last night. This comes directly after a six-week stretch in which the Capitals earned points in 18 of 19 games (14-1-4 record from Dec. 4 to Jan. 14).
• Team defense has slipped for WSH – it has allowed 4+ goals in all 4 games during the losing streak.
CROSBY VS. OVECHKIN
• Ovechkin was held without a point yesterday vs. CBJ, but he has 11 goals in his last 12 games (11G-4A).
• Ovechkin is t-1st in the NHL in power play goals (12, w/ Joe Pavelski of SJ). Ovechkin has led the NHL in PPG each of the last 2 seasons.
• Crosby has gone 2 straight games without a point. His longest stretch without a point this season was a 3-game span from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4.
PITTSBURGH TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• David Perron has been productive since he was acquired from EDM; after a goal and an assist last night, he now has 9 pts (6G-3A) in 9 gms with the Pens.
• He now has more goals with the Pens than he did the entire first half of the season with the Oilers.
• Thomas Greiss stopped 19 of 22 shots last night in the win.
• Marc-Andre Fleury last played a week ago in a 3-2 (SO) loss to CHI; he stopped 24 of 26 shots. Fleury is on a personal 3-game losing streak (0-2-1 record), and since Dec. 22, he has won just 3 of 12 starts.
WASHINGTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• Nicklas Backstrom had an assist last night – the 400th of his career – to extent his point streak to 4 games (2G-4A).
• John Carlson had an assist last night to extend his point streak to 3 games (0G-4A). He ranks t-4th among NHL d-men in points (35), and t-2nd in assists (30).
• Through 47 GP, Carlson has already tied his career-high for assists w/ 30, and he is just 2 points away from his career-high of 37.
• Carlson also leads WSH in TOI/G at 23:21.
• Earlier in the month, Braden Holtby set a franchise record by appearing in 27 straight games from Nov. 18 to Jan. 16. This is also the longest consecutive games played streak by a goalie in the NHL this season.
• Holtby is 1 win away from tying his career-high of 23, done in each of the past two seasons.
• Holtby has allowed 4 goals in each of his last 3 starts (0-2-1 record), including his 4 GA on 30 shots last night in the loss to CBJ.
• Holtby had a 31-save shutout vs. PIT in the first meeting this season on Dec. 27.