Penguins-Capitals Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 02, 2013
The Washington Capitals have experienced their share of struggles early in the season, but that hasn't been the case in recent matchups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby and company have been pretty solid on the road, though. Washington looks to gain at least a point for the 16th time in the last 17 meetings as Pittsburgh seeks its fifth victory in six road games Sunday. The Capitals (2-5-1) haven't gotten off to an ideal start in the lockout-shortened 48-game season, dropping six of their first seven games before Friday's 3-2 home win over Philadelphia. Washington held 2-1 leads heading into the third period of 3-2 losses at Ottawa on Tuesday and at Toronto on Thursday. "I think the last couple of games in the third period we seemed to break down and get away from what we want to be doing,'' said Wojtek Wolski, who scored his second goal Friday. Both of the Capitals' wins have come at home, where Alex Ovechkin has two of his three total points. Though he's gotten off to a slow start and didn't record a point against the Flyers, coach Adam Oates was encouraged by Ovechkin's effort. "I thought it was the best game he's played this year,'' Oates said. "He was involved the whole game. He had a lot of opportunities.'' Ovechkin had a goal and two assists before Evgeni Malkin scored in overtime as the Penguins beat the visiting Capitals 4-3 in the most recent meeting Jan. 22, 2012. Ovechkin, however, has failed to record a point in the last four home meetings. Washington, though, is 12-1-3 in the last 16 regular-season meetings and will look to slow down a Pittsburgh team that has won four of its five road games. The Penguins (5-3-0) are coming off a 5-1 home victory over New Jersey on Saturday, as Crosby and Chris Kunitz each had a goal and two assists while linemate Pascal Dupuis also had a pair of assists. "We were skating well. I think that was a big part of it and keeping it pretty simple, but the first shift out there we were buzzing pretty well," Crosby told the team's official website of his line's effort. "I think as a group we all made it easier on each other, not just our line, but as a five-man unit out there." Brandon Sutter scored his first goal since being acquired from Carolina in the Jordan Staal trade on draft night, with Malkin and Crosby getting the assists. "I've had a few chances the last few games and I've been getting robbed a little bit, so it's nice to get the monkey off the back and get the first one," Sutter said. Malkin has one of his two goals and six of his eight assists on the road, but he hasn't scored a goal in his last nine regular-season games at Washington. Crosby, though, has 15 goals and 10 assists in 16 career games, including playoffs, at the Verizon Center. Tomas Vokoun, who went 25-17-2 with a 2.51 goals-against average in 46 starts and two relief appearances during his only season with the Capitals in 2011-12, will get the start against his former team Sunday. He has a 1.81 GAA in four games - three starts - with the Penguins, including a 28-save effort in a 3-0 win at the New York Rangers on Thursday. Braden Holtby, who has a 4.02 GAA in his three starts thus far, will make his first career appearance in net against Pittsburgh.
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