Capitals Vs. Penguins: Alex Ovechkin, Michal Neuvirth Prove Enough For Caps In 1-0 Win Over Penguins

Alex Ovechkin's power play goal and Michal Neuvirth's steady goaltending were all the Caps needed as they shut out the Penguins for the second consecutive time in a 1-0 win.

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Capitals Vs. Penguins: Alex Ovechkin Proves That One Is Enough, Michal Neuvirth Shuts Out Penguins 1-0

During the first three games of this season's series between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, there was plenty of offense to go around. But as Alex Ovechkin proved Monday, all you need is one.

Ovechkin's second period power play goal would end up as the game winner as the Caps defeated the Penguins 1-0 in the regular season finale between these two teams.

Michal Neuvirth earned his third career shutout, making 39 saves to keep Washington in the game and in the lead. 

On the Caps' third power play of the game, Mike Knuble brought the puck into the zone alongside the right boards and fired a tough-angle shot on Marc-Andre Fleury. The rebound popped out and up into the air. Marcus Johansson caught it, placed it down and found Ovechkin entering the zone. Ovechkin would then fire a laser of a slapshot past Fleury for his 24th goal of the season at 16:38.

Washington is now 10-0-2 in its last 12 contests against Pittsburgh and has shut the Penguins out in consecutive games after not doing so for 79 straight contests. Washington ended the season series with a 3-0-1 record.

Despite being outshot 39-24, the Capitals now inch closer to the top of the Eastern Conference; they are now three points behind the Penguins and just one point behind Southeast Division leader Tampa Bay. With a 3-2-0 record on their five-game road trip, the Caps head home and will face the New York Rangers Friday in yet another important matchup.

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Capitals Vs. Penguins: Alex Ovechkin Strikes First, Caps Lead 1-0 After Two Periods

The physicality between the Capitals and Penguins didn't end in the second period, but the scoreless tie did.

Alex Ovechkin scored a power play goal late in the period to give the Caps a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes.

On the Caps' third power play of the game, Mike Knuble brought the puck into the zone alongside the right boards and fired a tough-angle shot on Marc-Andre Fleury. The rebound popped out and up into the air. Marcus Johansson caught it, placed it down and found Ovechkin entering the zone. Ovechkin would then fire a laser of a slapshot past Fleury for his 24th goal of the season at 16:38.

Michal Neuvirth continued to be spectacular, making seven saves, but none more important than stopping Jordan Staal on a shorthanded breakaway opportunity. The Caps had a 14-7 shot advantage in the period, but trail 25-21 in total shots.

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Capitals Vs. Penguins: Plenty Of Hits, But No Goals As Caps And Pens Scoreless After 20 Mintues

To say there was plenty of physical play in the first period between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins would be an understatement.

The first 20 minutes featured 27 hits and four penalties, but no goals as the Caps and Pens are scoreless.

Pittsburgh dominated the offensive aspect of the game in the first period, firing 18 shots on Michal Neuvirth, but he figuratively stood on his head and kept the Caps in the game.

The Capitals struggled to get their offense going early, not getting shots on Marc-Andre Fleury on an early power play opportunity. In fact, Washington's first shot on goal came on its best scoring chance; around the 11:00 mark, Nicklas Backstrom sprung Alex Ovechkin for a breakaway. Ovechkin went for the backhand, but Fleury kept with it and stoned him. The Caps finished with just seven shots.

Not all was bad, however, as the Caps killed off all three Pittsburgh power plays.

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Capitals Vs. Penguins: Starting Lineup, Mike Green Out, Jordan Staal In

Via Washington Post, below is tonight's starting lineup for the Washington Capitals as they prepare to face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
Laich-Johansson-Semin
Chimera-Perreault-Gordon
King-Steckel-Bradley

Defense
Alzner-Carlson
Schultz-Hannan
Erskine-Sloan

Goal
Neuvirth
Varlamov

Scratches: Mike Green and Matt Hendricks.

Mike Green will miss his fifth straight game while he continues to recover from a slap shot to the face during the Caps' last meeting with the Penguins February 6. Matt Hendricks is also a scratch; he is sick. Penguins center Jordan Staal suffered a similar fate to Green's late in Pittsburgh's 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday, but is expected to start. Penguins defenseman Paul Martin, however, is expected to sit. Martin is not the only defenseman that will be missing for Pittsburgh; Alex Goligoski was traded to the Dallas Stars Monday afternoon in exchange for James Neal and Matt Niskanen.

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Capitals Vs. Penguins: Caps End Road Trip In Hostile Territory

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.

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