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The Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Washington, D.C., to take on the Capitals tonight for an NHL shootdown. Can the Caps bounce back tonight at home? Let's get into it.
ANALYSIS

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Prediction: Can the Capitals Bounce Back?

The Washington Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins in what should be an entertaining matchup in the nation's capital, Washington D.C. Both teams sit in the middle of the Metropolitan Division, as the Penguins and Capitals are currently tied with 56 points. This matchup could prove pivotal in the Division going down the stretch between two playoff hopefuls. The Capitals are coming off back-to-back losses and really need this win. Can they get it at home?

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Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Prediction

The Penguins have had success this season in large part due to their offense. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jake Guentzel all have over 44 points and have led the way on the attack. Crosby has been the usual offensive powerhouse he always has been and leads the team with 23 goals. The Penguins have looked much better in five-on-five play than on the power play, however, as they rank 16th in the league with a 22% scoring rate on the power play.

The main storyline for the Penguins tonight is the loss of Tristan Jarry. Jarry has been the best netminder for the Penguins this season, as he is 16-5-5 with a 92% save percentage. His backup, Casey DeSmith, is 7-9-3 with a 90% save percentage. Jarry returned from his injury on January 20th against the Senators and immediately was back to his usual self, stopping 44 of 45 shots in a 4-1 win. Jarry would only return for two games, though, as he is now back on the bench battling injuries again. In relief, DeSmith gave up six goals on 39 shots in a 7-6 win against the Panthers. Sure, it was a win, but six goals allowed will rarely result in a win. DeSmith has given up 11 combined goals in his past two starts, and he is even worse on the road, where he is 4-7-2.

The Capitals have had a mostly successful season this year, going 25-19-6. They have been on a bit of a skid recently, though. The Caps are 2-5 in their last seven games, and they have lost two in a row at home. This is an important game against a team they might be battling for the postseason against, so the Caps know they have to be on their best game tonight. The Capitals have been dealing with some significant injuries to their key players, most notably T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom, two of the best players on the team, but it appears both will be in tonight. Backstrom has only played seven games this season, and T.J. Oshie has missed time here and there but has not been consistently in. With the top forwards looking like a go tonight, the Capitals have a severe lift to their scoring.

As for the goalie situation in Washington, Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren have both been reliable this season, with Kuemper having a slightly higher save percentage. They have gone back and forth, but Kuemper will have the start at home tonight. Kuemper has lost two straight starts against the Avalanche and Knights, two of the best teams in the league, and he has started four straight games on the road. He is better at home, where he has not gotten a start since January 14th.

With the goalie troubles for Pittsburgh and key returning players for the Capitals, I am siding with the home team here. Both teams are tied in points, and the Capitals have always been a stronger home team. The Penguins have found nearly all their success this season with Tristan Jarry, who will be on the sidelines tonight. The Capitals do not have a lot of home games on the schedule during this stretch, so this is a game I expect them to pick up after back-to-back losses.

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

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Article Author

NCAABBoxing/MMAMLBNHL

Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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