Series (Game 3 of 4)

Washington leads 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, December 23rd
Game 2: Saturday, January 1st
Game 3: Sunday, February 6th
Game 4: Monday, February 21st

Penguins 0

(34-16-4, 72 pts)

Capitals 3

(29-15-10, 68 pts)

Coverage: NBC

12:30 PM ET, February 6, 2011

Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

1 2 3 T
PIT 0 0 00
WSH 1 1 13

M. Neuvirth (Capitals - G): Saves: 22, Save Pct.: 1.000

B. Laich (Capitals - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Johansson (Capitals - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Penguins-Capitals Preview


The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals may not be able to replicate the picturesque setting of last month's Winter Classic. Even with the game moved back indoors and Pittsburgh's two biggest stars sidelined, though, the intensity of the rivalry isn't likely to lessen.

Already without Sidney Crosby, the Penguins will also be missing Evgeni Malkin as they seek their sixth straight win Sunday when they visit the Capitals.

Pittsburgh and Washington faced off in prime time Jan. 1 at Heinz Field, with the Capitals winning 3-1 behind two goals from Eric Fehr and 32 saves by Semyon Varlamov.

Pittsburgh (34-15-4) will be forced to sport a different look Sunday. Crosby (concussion) has missed the last 12 games, while Malkin tore two knee ligaments during Friday's 3-2 home victory over Buffalo and is out indefinitely.

Coach Dan Bylsma said treatment options, surgery included, were being discussed for Malkin.

"You're talking about Evgeni Malkin and the quality of player that he is. He's a guy that's won a scoring title and a Conn Smythe (trophy)," Bylsma said. "We were anticipating getting him back in the lineup and healthy back in the lineup. This is a difficult injury for him."

Surprisingly, the Penguins have won four of five games when neither Malkin nor Crosby has played. Pittsburgh has won five straight and eight of nine overall.

"I think when you have guys like that out, you have to be sharp every night and do the right things," defenseman Paul Martin said. "I think it's good when we see that it's effective and we're successful doing it. It's contagious and we have to continue doing it."

Washington's Mike Knuble said even without Malkin and Crosby, the Penguins pose a tough matchup for the Capitals, who lost 3-2 in a shootout at home against Pittsburgh on Dec. 23.

"They're playing really well of late and they've really responded with Sid and Malkin being out," Knuble said. "You have to give them a lot of credit for the way they've played as a group. ... It doesn't matter who's in their lineup."

Washington (28-15-10) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory at Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay on Friday.

The Capitals, who pulled within three points of the Lightning, are 4-1-3 in their last eight games.

"It felt a little bit like a playoff game," said Nicklas Backstrom, who had two goals and two assists. "It was a big game for us, a big two points."

Alex Ovechkin had a goal and three assists, snapping a three-game point drought.

Ovechkin might find it difficult to keep his momentum going against the Penguins, who have held him without a point in the two meetings this season. He did have seven goals and three assists four games versus Pittsburgh in 2009-10.

The five goals Friday were the most for Washington since a 5-1 win over New Jersey on Dec. 21. The Capitals had totaled three goals in their previous three contests.

"We're trying to take a step forward in our game," Knuble said. "It just happens to be against (the Penguins)."