Get your game notes: Penguins at Capitals, Rivalry Night

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:

TOP STORYLINES

• 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%)

Video: Kings keep rolling with victory over Sharks at Levi’s Stadium

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The stage was great, and so were the stakes.

In a battle at Levi’s Stadium, in front of more than 70,000 hockey fans, the L.A. Kings moved back into third place in the Pacific Division with a 2-1 win over the host San Jose Sharks in a physical, intense game between two California rivals.

Marian Gaborik scored the winner, beating Antti Niemi with a slap shot that found its way under the left arm of the Sharks goalie.

“Yeah, it’s definitely special. It was my second outdoor game,” said Gaborik.

“It’s been fun in terms of putting pucks into the net. But it definitely feels good to get the goal. So brought us each two points, and it was a fun game tonight.”

With the victory, the Kings have won seven games in a row. They’re serving notice to the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Sharks have fallen out of the top eight in the conference, as the playoff race heats up.

“Well, we’ve been very inconsistent this year. The last seven games we played some good hockey,” said Gaborik. “We played some Kings hockey like we know how to play, and we’ve been getting great goaltending throughout the team everybody is contributing.”

The Kings began this streak on Feb. 7. It followed a three-game losing streak, and seven losses in eight games.

Back on Feb. 6, the Kings were 12th in the conference, and five points back of the Vancouver Canucks for the final Wild Card spot.

“If you look at our schedule, we have a two-game trip for us, and we have 14 road games and 12 division games so I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on where we are right now,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.

The Sharks got off to a slow start under the lights of Levi’s Stadium, but were much stronger through the middle part of the game. However, Gaborik’s early goal in the third period turned the momentum in favor of the Kings, who were able to hold on in the final minute.

“We were disappointed in the outcome. I’m not disappointed in the effort and what our group put into the game,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan.

“We would have preferred to win. It was a hard-fought game by two good teams that played a pretty even match. So the outcome is very disappointing, but everything else we’re proud of. I think our city and Northern California has to be extremely proud.”

Video: Gaborik’s third-period goal extends Kings’ winning streak to seven games

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The L.A. Kings, defending Stanley Cup champions, are making a statement as they fight back into the Western Conference playoff picture.

Marian Gaborik scored the winner on a slap shot that somehow beat Antti Niemi at the 4:04 mark of the third period, as the Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks by a final score of 2-1 before 70,205 fans at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday.

That’s now seven consecutive wins for the Kings, who move to 68 points, which ties them with the Sharks, who entered the game holding that final Wild Card spot in the West.

The Kings, with games in hand on Calgary and San Jose, move into third in the Pacific Division.

Video: Heavy hitting continues between Sharks and Kings

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Might need a few ice packs after this game at Levi’s Stadium. The heavy hitting has been a constant theme between the L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks throughout the evening.

Take, for instance, this massive collision between Robyn Regehr and Melker Karlsson late in the second period. That’s a rather large run-in with the boards. Karlsson was shaken up but continued to battle with Regehr as the shift continued.

The two teams had combined for more than 70 hits into the third period.

 

Video: Brent Burns evens the score for Sharks

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Seems appropriate that on such a large stage, Brent Burns would score for the San Jose Sharks.

His goal, with 1:04 remaining in the first period, was big. It put San Jose on even terms at 1-1 with the L.A. Kings, after Kyle Clifford opened the scoring less than three minutes in.

Burns’ wrist shot from the sideboards seemed to fool Jonathan Quick. The puck didn’t appear to deflect off anything on its way to the net. Quick got a piece of it, but not enough. That’s Burns’ 16th goal of the season. And it’s game on.