Caps-Pens Renew Playoff Rivalry in Game 1

Alex Ovechkin has one simple request for fans and the media: don’t make this about Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. The Caps face off against their arch rivals from Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the first time since 2009, when both Sid and Alex scored hat tricks in Game 2 of the series. Caps friends will remember having a 2-0 lead only to see the Pens win three straight. On the verge of getting knocked out, Washington took game six to overtime where they won 5-4 to force a game seven. That game the Caps were never in the building as the Penguins crushed them at Verizon Center 6-2 to win the series and, eventually, the Stanley Cup.

Play Your Game

OK Caps fans. Breathe. We reached the second round after a tough first round series with Philly. The positives you take away from that series are the play of Braden Holtby and how Alex Ovechkin was in beast mode. They’ll need this and more as they take on a team that easily dismantled Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers four games to one with their speed and efficiency on the Power Play.

  • The Capitals Power Play is 29.6% and penalty kill is a league best 95.8% for the playoffs.
  • Braden Holtby has played Vezina Award winning hockey throughout the playoffs. Thus far he is 4-2 with a 0.84 GAA, .968 save percentage and two shutouts.
  • Players that need to boost their play in this series: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky.
  • The Capitals are 1-7 all-time in Stanley Cup Playoff series (19-30 overall) against the Penguins. The last time they beat them in a playoff series was 1994 when the Caps won four games to two.
  • Injuries: Defenseman Brooks Orpik is listed day-to-day but is looking likely to start the series.

No Fleury, No Problem

The Penguins have had to deal with a lot of injury issues. First, Evgeny Malkin was deemed out for the first part of the Rangers series. He has since made a triumphant return with two goals in Game 4. Then Marc-André Fleury has been battling concussion symptoms for more than a month, leaving rookie Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff as the Pens only options. Murray has been stellar in his rookie season, coming into the Ranger series and winning three straight games while allowing four goals.

  • The Penguin Power Play is a phenomenal 38.1%, tops in the league for the playoffs. Their penalty kill is 89.5%.
  • Rookie netminder Matt Murray is 3-0 with a 1.33 GAA, .955 save percentage and a shutout.
  • Sidney Crosby leads the team with three goals, five assists.
  • Injuries: Goaltender Marc-André Fleury (concussion, day-to-day); Forward Beau Bennett (undisclosed, day-to-day); Forward Scott Wilson (lower body, IR); and Kevin Porter (ankle, IR)

Your starting goaltenders will be Braden Holtby for the Caps and Matt Murray for the Pens.

Puck drop is 8 p.m. on CSN.

ROCK THE RED and GO CAPS!

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