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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, March 9th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (38-24-7) at Washington Capitals (32-29-8), 12:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Two of the NHL's brightest stars will meet again today, as Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins visit Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center.

Crosby and Ovechkin have been tied together since both coming into the league as rookies in 2005-06. That year Ovechkin beat out Crosby for the Calder Trophy, but Pittsburgh's phenom raised the bar in 2006-07, as he won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies, as the league's scoring leader and MVP, respectively.

Ovechkin is likely on his way to some hardware this season, as he is currently leading the NHL in goals (54) and points (93). The Russian superstar is also trying to become the league's first 60-goal scorer since Pittsburgh teammates Mario Lemieux (69 goals) and Jaromir Jagr (62) both achieved the feat during the 1995-96 campaign.

Crosby, meanwhile, has 65 points (20 goals, 45 assists) in 48 games and has played two games since returning from a 21-game layoff due to an ankle injury.

The Penguins have 83 points on the year and are three points behind New Jersey for the Atlantic Division lead. Pittsburgh is also tied for fourth in the conference with Ottawa.

Washington is six points behind Philadelphia for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh is 2-0-1 against the Capitals this season and has won 10 of 12 and 11 of the last 14 meetings between the clubs. The Pens have also taken three straight and four of the last five encounters in Washington.

The Penguins won their first game with Crosby back on the ice, as it defeated the Lightning in Tampa on Tuesday. However, Pittsburgh lost a 5-2 decision two days later at Florida. David Booth registered a goal and two assists, as the Panthers thumped the Pens at BankAtlantic Center.

Ryan Malone and Kris Letang scored for the Penguins, who had a two-game win streak halted. Marc-Andre Fleury allowed three goals on 19 shots in the first period and was replaced by Ty Conklin at the start of the second. Conklin finished the game with 21 saves.

Today's test marks the finale of a three-game road trip for the Penguins, who are 19-10-5 as the host this season. Pittsburgh has dropped three of its last four games on the road.

The Capitals had a two-game winning streak halted Saturday afternoon in Boston as Zdeno Chara and Marco Sturm scored 5-on-3 goals just under three minutes apart late in the third period to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 victory.

The Bruins were able to take advantage of Washington's undisciplined play en route to the win at TD Banknorth Garden. The Caps were clinging to a 1-0 lead with less than seven minutes to play when Donald Brashear compounded a double- minor for high-sticking with a roughing penalty. John Erskine was then hit with a hooking call to give the Bruins a two-man advantage and Chara converted to tie the game with 5:01 left. Sturm then scored on another 5-on-3 with 2:16 left to play.

Brooks Laich scored the only goal for Washington, while Cristobal Huet stopped 26 shots in defeat.

The Capitals are playing the first test of a four-game homestand today. Washington is 17-14-3 as the hosts this year, but has lost three of its last five tests in DC.

03/09 10:42:36 ET

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