Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins (A: +120, H: -145, O/U: 5)
Series tied 1-1
The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to overcome the loss of one of their top-tier defensemen to even their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Washington Capitals. With coach Mike Sullivan admitting that he’s “probably not optimistic” about the availability of Olli Maatta (upper body), Pittsburgh faces an uphill task in Monday’s Game 3 as the series shifts to the Steel City.
Washington also will be short-handed on the blue line as former Penguin Brooks Orpik, who lowered the boom on Maatta less than five minutes into Saturday’s contest, received a three-game suspension from the NHL for the hit. Pittsburgh dominated play for the initial two periods before ex-Capital Eric Fehr redirected the puck past Braden Holtby with 4:28 remaining in the third of an eventual 2-1 win. “Call (it) what it was,” Washington forward Justin Williams told reporters. “The first two periods, the ice was tilted a little bit, no doubt. … We didn’t answer until the third. It turned out to be too late.” Superstars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have also been late to the party in the series, as the former has been held to just one assist while the latter has been held off the scoresheet in both contests.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS
Capitals – Braden Holtby (W/L 5-3, GAA: 1.24, SAVE %: 0.926)
Penguins – Matt Murray (W/L 4-1, GAA: 1.74, SAVE %: 0.932)
Capitals – D B. Orpik (Out Monday, suspension).
Penguins – G M Fleury (Questionable Monday, concussion), RW B. Bennett (Questionable Monday, shoulder), D O. Maatta (Out Monday, head).
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (61-21-8, 40-50 ATS, 35-38 O/U): Holtby isn’t putting his feet up in this series, as the Vezina Trophy finalist has faced 80 shots in the first two contests versus Pittsburgh after seeing just 36 come his way in the final two games against Philadelphia. “We know we can play better. We have had periods but not 60-minute games. We can’t give a team like that as much time and space,” said Holtby, who has allowed five goals to the Penguins after yielding that same total in six games versus the Flyers. With Orpik set to miss Games 3-5, either Mike Weber or Dmitry Orlov will draw back into the lineup.
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (53-27-9, 43-46 ATS, 40-34 O/U): While Sullivan admitted he has questions about Maatta’s availability for Game 3, he stopped short of revealing any answers should the defenseman be forced to sit out. Derrick Pouliot is one candidate despite having yet to play in the 2016 playoffs while fellow blue-liner Justin Schultz is another after competing in just under six minutes of Game 1 of the first-round series. “We’ve been working hard, the guys who haven’t been playing,” Schultz said. “Obviously, it’s different being in a game situation, but you have to be ready. It’s playoff time and if I have to go (Monday), I’ll be ready.”
* Capitals are 13-3 in their last 16 Monday games.
* Penguins are 21-5 in their last 26 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Under is 10-2-4 in Capitals last 16 Conference Semifinals games.
* Over is 7-1-3 in Penguins last 11 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Under is 3-1-1 in the last 5 meetings in Pittsburgh.