PREVIEW: Pittsburgh Penguins determined to maintain dominance vs. Washington Capitals

Mar 12, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates with center Evgeni Malkin (71) after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins have found success against the Washington Capitals early this season, winning four of the first five meetings. Pittsburgh will try to add to that when it comes to Washington on Thursday night for another matchup.

The last victory came on Tuesday came when the Penguins used a Kasperi Kapanen goal just 1:43 into overtime for a 3-2 victory over Washington. The speed that Pittsburgh employs on a regular basis bothered the Capitals on many occasions, a big reason the Penguins out-shot them 37-22.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Penguins, check out #LetsGoPens rumors, rankings, and news here.

“I thought we were playing the game hard,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “We were trying to play the right way. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but there aren’t too many games that are. But I thought from top to bottom we were playing hard.”

The Penguins also got goals from Jake Guentzel (plus an assist) along with Evgeni Malkin. Pittsburgh has won three straight games and five of their last six overall.

Also, the status of forward Jason Zucker was unknown as of mid-Wednesday as he was being evaluated for a lower-body injury suffered midway through the third period. Pittsburgh also announced Wednesday that it claimed defenseman Mark Friedman from the Flyers off waivers.

The Penguins expected Friedman to join them for Thursday’s game with Washington.

Sidney Crosby played in career game No. 1,001 but did not score a point in Tuesday’s win.

These two teams have built up a rivalry over the years, and dropping a game to the Penguins — even though Washington picked up a point since the game went into overtime — did not make the Caps happy.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Capitals, check out #ALLCAPS rumors, rankings, and news here.

“We don’t like losing to those guys,” Washington forward Tom Wilson said. “These are big points, big games, and I think if we put a little more emphasis into the full 60-minute game, maybe we can get an upper hand and get a goal lead or something like that.

Rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek came back to the ice after getting a break in the Capitals’ last game. He returned and played well, making 34 saves and once again keeping Washington in the game.

For the Capitals, Richard Panik and Conor Sheary — formerly a Penguin — scored the goals.

Washington got some good news off the ice regarding its goalie situation.

Henrik Lundqvist returned to the ice Tuesday for the first time since having open-heart surgery back in early January.

The Washington goalie posted videos on his Instagram and Twitter accounts of him facing shots and working on movement at a rink in New Jersey. There was no comment afterward regarding whether or not he’d be able to return to the ice this season.

The surgery, according to earlier announcements, was for an “aortic valve replacement, aortic root and ascending aortic replacement.”

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The Washington Post said that coach Peter Laviolette mentioned that goalie Ilya Samsonov, penciled in as the starter before the season began, might get the start for the AHL’s Hershey Bears on Wednesday. He’s not been in an NHL contest since Jan. 17 after his COVID-19 test came up positive two days later.

As of now, Samsonov remains on the Capitals’ taxi squad.

–Field Level Media