The last time the Washington Capitals were in Pittsburgh, 68,000-plus fans witnessed them defeating the hometown Penguins in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. There will be much less fans indoors Monday, but the energy inside Consol Energy Center will be just as palpable as the Caps and Pens meet for the final time this season.
Monday's game will be the last of five straight road games for the Caps, who are 2-2-0 so far. Both teams will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set; the Caps defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1, while the Penguins fell 3-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout. With those results, the Caps inched closer to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference standings and now sit five points behind in fifth place. Washington trails Southeast Division leader Tampa Bay by only three points. Recent history indicates that the Caps should earn at least a point Monday; they are 10-1-3 against the Penguins under head coach Bruce Boudreau and are 9-0-2 in their last 11 regular season games against them.
The last time these two teams met, Brooks Orpik's slap shot caught MIke Green in the ear and has kept him out of five of the last six games. Green has not played since February 12 and his status is uncertain for Monday. The Penguins avoided a scare of their own in similar fashion Sunday. Jordan Staal also took a slap shot to the face and left the game, but showed positive signs afterwards. His status is also uncertain.