Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#53 Pittsburgh Penguins 6.5 vs.
#54 Washington Capitals -135
Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 12:05pm EST
Capital One Arena, Washington
Written by Chris Kubala

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It’s a battle for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division on the ice in the nation’s capital. The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the road as they make the trip to face the Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon. Pittsburgh was knocked off 5-2 on home ice by Buffalo Saturday afternoon in their last contest. Washington was dropped 3-2 on the road by New Jersey Saturday afternoon in their previous contest. The teams split the last 10 meetings between the teams but the Penguins have won three straight in the series. That includes a 4-3 road victory in the first meeting between the teams this season on February 2.

Pittsburgh Penguins Look to Bounce Back

Pittsburgh dropped their second straight game as they were unable to defend home ice against the Sabres Saturday afternoon. The Penguins entered Saturday night tied for the Metropolitan Division lead with Washington. Pittsburgh is very effective at lighting the lamp as they average 3.27 goals per game on the year. The Penguins are solid in their own zone and get quality goaltending as they allow 2.68 goals per contest. Pittsburgh is fairly average on the power play this season as they have converted 21.8 percent of their chances with the man advantage on the year. The Penguins are solid in the penalty killing department as they are successful in 82.6 percent of their shorthanded situations. They have six shorthanded goals on the year.

Against the Sabres, the Penguins were struggling early and it ended up costing them the game. Pittsburgh held a 12-10 edge in shots on goal but trailed 3-0 after the opening period as they were unable to get their offensive attack going. The second period saw the Penguins with a 13-11 edge in shots on goal and scored the lone goal of the period to trail 3-1 after 40 minutes. Evgeni Malkin scored his 19th goal of the season, unassisted, at 11:10 to get the Penguins on the board. In the final period, the Penguins held an 18-5 edge in shots on goal but were outscored 2-1 to end up with the loss. After giving up a pair of goals to trail 5-1, Malkin scored his second of the game and 20th of the year at 17:57 off an assist from Patric Hornqvist. That closed the scoring. Tristan Jarry made 21 saves for the Penguins, who were outshot 43-26, in the loss.

Washington Capitals Try to Regain Division Lead

Washington dropped their fourth straight game as they gave up a late goal to fall on the road in New Jersey. The Capitals entered Saturday night sitting in a tie for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division with the Penguins as both teams entered with 80 points. Washington is a prolific offensive team as they average 3.47 goals per game this season. The Capitals are average on the defensive end of the ice as they allow 3.03 goals per game on the year. Washington is fairly average with the man advantage as they cash in 20.6 percent of their power play chances this season. The Capitals are excellent in penalty killing as they successfully work through 84 percent of their shorthanded situations this season.

Against the Devils, the Capitals were held in check for the most part as they ended up falling short in the contest. Washington held an 11-7 edge in shots on goal in the opening period but trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes of play. In the second period, the Capitals were outshot 13-11 and saw each team scoring once to trail 2-1 after 40 minutes. After falling behind 2-0, Tom Wilson got the Capitals on the board with his 19th of the year, on the power play, at 14:44 off assists from John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom. In the third period, Washington had a 13-9 edge in shots on goal with each team scoring once to seal their fate. Alex Ovechkin tied the game with his 42nd of the year and his 700th of his career at 4:50 off assists from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nick Jensen. Washington gave up the winning goal with just 1:59 remaining in regulation. Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves for the Capitals, who held a 35-29 edge in shots on goal, in the loss. Braden Holtby is in line to get the start in goal here.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Both teams are looking to get back on track and take over the division lead as the Metropolitan Division is tightening up with their struggles along with surges by the Flyers and Islanders. Pittsburgh looked flat against Buffalo in their loss Saturday and that proved problematic as they were down 3-0 less than 11 minutes into the game. The Penguins have to be better than what we’ve seen of late. Washington has lost four straight and have struggled of late. The Capitals let at least one point slip away in the loss Saturday but they return home here. Give a slight advantage to Washington in this one behind Ovechkin.

Prediction: Washington Capitals -135

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Pittsburgh comes into this game sporting a 15-11-2 road mark on the season. In those games, the Penguins hold an even goal differential (85-85) and a +44 shot differential (850-806) in those games this season. That creates an average of 6.07 goals per game this season when they are the visiting team. Washington is 16-9-5 on home ice this season. The Capitals own a +10 goal differential (102-92) and a +70 (970-900) in those games. That's an average of 6.47 goals per game on home ice this year. Look for this one, given that both teams are struggling a bit of late, to stay under the total.

Prediction: Under 6.5

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Pittsburgh hasn't been nearly as good on the road as they've been on home ice this season. The Penguins have held the lead just seven times in 28 road games after the opening period this season. By comparison, Pittsburgh has been tied 10 times and trailed 11 times after the opening period as the visiting team this year. Washington has held the upper hand nine times after one period at home this season and been tied in nine games. The Capitals have actually trailed 12 times after one period this season at home but look for them to build momentum behind the crowd to hold the lead after 20 minutes.

Prediction: 1st Period Washington Capitals
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.