The Pittsburgh Penguins (44-17-4, 92 pts) continued their dominance against the Washington Capitals (30-27-10, 70 pts) with a 2-0 win Tuesday night, sweeping all four games against the Caps this season. Pittsburgh has won eight straight games against the Capitals.
Marc Andre Fleury was the catalyst, making 32 saves and recording his 5th shutout of the season, tying a career high.
Jussi Jokinen (17) scored a tip-in goal in the first period and Sidney Crosby (31) buried a 2-on-1 opportunity, beating Jaroslav Halak with a snap shot from the right circle to put the Penguins ahead 2-0 with under six minutes to play in regulation.
The win for Pittsburgh moves them three points ahead of the Boston Bruins for the Eastern Conference lead. Boston has one game in hand.
In sweeping the four games against Washington this season, the past three meetings have all been close games but it’s the Penguins who just have the ability to close out these tight games when Pittsburgh and Washington meet. We saw it again tonight as Fleury was locked in all game and Crosby would score a crushing goal with 5:48 left in regulation.
Despite trailing the last wildcard spot by just three points, it’s hard to see this Capitals team having a great run in them like last season to get into the playoffs. They are just such a bland team and a Penguins – Capitals first round matchup would be a very favorable series for the Penguins. The percentages say one is unlikely.
Sportsclubstats gives Washington just a 6.4% chance to make the playoffs. Washington has just 15 games remaining and will likely need atleast a 10-3-2 finish to have a legitimate shot of getting in.
The schedule is extremely tough over the next seven games for Washington.
The Capitals face Los Angeles twice, San Jose, Anaheim, Boston and Toronto in six of their next seven games.
Even if the Capitals were to get into the playoffs and potentially face the Penguins, it likely wouldn’t have the same feel as 2009. What made that series so special was because of how even those two teams were. Certainly not the case anymore.