Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins (A: -115, H: -105, O/U: 5)
Penguins lead series 2-1
If the host Pittsburgh Penguins hope to push the reigning Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals to the brink of elimination on Wednesday, they’ll need to accomplish the feat without their top two defensemen. Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series for his hit on Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 victory in Game 3.
With Letang’s traditional defense partner Olli Maatta (upper body) expected to sit out on Wednesday, the Penguins will need a boost from blue-liners Derrick Pouliot and Justin Schultz as they enter Game 4 with a 2-1 edge in the series. “He’s impossible to replace, really,” Schultz said of Letang, who has logged nearly 97 1/2 minutes of ice time in the series and recorded seven points (one goal, six assists) in the playoffs. Washington coach Barry Trotz was quick to praise Letang’s ability, but noted that he doesn’t expect Pittsburgh to alter its style. “I don’t think they’re going to change their philosophy or anything like that,” Trotz said. “I think they’re just going to have to fill the void as we are trying to do with (defenseman) Brooks (Orpik) out, if there’s anything to come of that.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVAS
Capitals – Braden Holtby (W/L 5-4, GAA: 1.44, SAVE %: 0.925)
Penguins – Matt Murray (W/L 5-1, GAA: 1.79, SAVE %: 0.935)
Capitals – D B. Orpik (Out Wednesday, suspension), LW M. Johansson (Questionable Wednesday, upper body).
Penguins – D K. Letang (Out Wednesday, suspension), RW B. Bennett (Questionable Wednesday, shoulder), D O. Maatta (Questionable Wednesday, head), RW B. Rust (Questionable Wednesday, foot).
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (61-22-8, 41-50 ATS, 35-38 O/U): Forward Stanislav Galiev participated on the second line in Tuesday’s practice in place of Johansson (upper body), who will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. “Just some issues with my neck right now, but I passed all the other tests,” Johansson said. “I did not hit the ice … got a little whiplash, I think, and it is what it is.” Should Johansson sit out, Andre Burakovsky would likely move to the second line while Galiev would play on the wing with the third line.
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (54-27-9, 43-47 ATS, 40-34 O/U): While rookie Matt Murray turned aside a staggering 47 shots in Game 3, Marc-Andre Fleury did his best to fend off frustration as the franchise goaltender finds himself in the backup role following his second concussion of the season. “I love to play. I love the game,” the 31-year-old Fleury said. “… I wish I could play, but that’s how it is and that’s fine.” Murray, 21, posted a 9-2-1 mark in the regular season and has won five of six starts in the playoffs in place of Fleury, who is the franchise’s all-time wins leader (357) and has guided the club to the Stanley Cup in 2009.
* Capitals are 1-5 in their last 6 Conference Semifinals games.
* Penguins are 22-5 in their last 27 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Under is 4-0-1 in Capitals last 5 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Over is 7-1-4 in Penguins last 12 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Capitals are 1-4 in the last 5 meetings.
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