It’s been over three years since the Capitals and Penguins last faced off in a playoff series, but this rivalry still brings adrenaline-fueled, energy-packed games from both sides. Washington is looking to build off its win over Philadelphia Friday night and start making up ground in the Eastern Conference standings so perhaps there’s no better time to face its arch nemesis than now.
“It’s challenge. Especially when we in that kind of position we have to get the points and we in desperate mode right now,” Alex Ovechkin said before the game. “We can’t lose the games that kind of often. We just have to go out there, doesn’t matter who it’s going to be – Pittsburgh, or Buffalo, or Winnipeg – we just have to go and win the game.”
With John Erskine serving the first game of his three-game suspension for elbowing Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds, the Capitals will insert Tom Poti back into the lineup. Prior to Sunday’s game, Coach Adam Oates said he didn’t anticipate Erskine missing a trio of games for the elbow.
“He’s never been suspended before,” Oates said. “I’m a little surprised it’s three, quite honestly, but I’ve got nothing – no say in it.”
In net, Braden Holtby (1-2-1, 4.02 goals-against average, .885 save percentage) makes his second consecutive start and will be opposed by former Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun (2-1-0, 1.81 GAA, .940 save percentage) for Pittsburgh.
Faceoff: 12:30 p.m. Verizon Center | TV: NBC | Radio: 106.7
Based on warmups here’s what the lineup should look like:
Goal: Holtby, Neuvirth.
Scratches:John Erskine (suspension), Mathieu Perreault and Roman Hamrlik.