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Capitals, Penguins Battle in East Division Showdown

Nicklas Backstrom and the Washington Capitals are moneyline favorites in NHL betting odds against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

The Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Washington Capitals for the fifth time this season and for the third time in the last week on Tuesday night. The Penguins are 3-1 against the Caps this season and head into the game having won four of their last five games while Washington has won three of its last four and is favored here at home.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals
  • Date/Time: February 23, 7 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Capital One Arena
  • TV Coverage: NBCS
  • Opening Odds: Capitals -133 | O/U 6.5 (Line History)
  • Penguins vs Capitals Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The game opened with the Capitals as favorites at -133 and the line has moved down into the -111 to -125 range. The total opened at 6.5 and can be found at either 6 or 6.5 depending on the sportsbook.

Pittsburgh News & Notes

It has been a tough go for the Penguins this season as they have dealt with injuries, slumping superstars and poor goaltending. But they find themselves fourth in the division based on points percentage and within striking distance of the top two through almost a third of the season.

The underlying numbers aren’t great. The team ranks 25th in high-danger chances for percentage (HDCF%) with 119 high-danger chances for, but 140 against. And they’re 17th in goals for percentage (GF%) at even strength with 34 goals scored and 34 goals allowed. But the Pens have had some of their better players break their slumps a bit.

After scoring only one goal and three points in his first eight games, Evgeni Malkin now has seven points in his last eight outings. Defenseman Kris Letang has had a similar bounce-back with six points in his last six games after starting with just three points in his first nine.

Washington News & Notes

The Washington Capitals are higher than the Penguins in the standings and are also ahead in several key statistical categories. The Caps have more high-danger scoring chances, a better HDCF%, more even-strength goals and a better even-strength goals percentage.

Though Alex Ovechkin is scoring at more than a point-per-game clip, it is longtime linemate Nicklas Backstrom leading the way for the Capitals. Backstrom is having a fantastic start to his 14th NHL campaign with 22 points in 14 games to pace the team, ranking ninth in the league.

The long-awaited return of goaltender Ilya Samsonov is imminent as he was placed on the team’s taxi squad this week after missing 15 games while in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Samsonov will take over for rookie Vitek Vanecek, who has started to falter after serving admirably in Samsonov’s absence. Vanecek is 7-4-2 with a .907 save percentage.

Betting Pick: Penguins +100

Getting plus money on the Penguins seems like a good bet as they’ve had Washington’s number so far this season. The teams are really quite close in most areas and although the return of Samsonov to Washington’s net is a boost, it is fair to expect some rust in his first game back – if he plays at all.

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Shark Bites
  • Pittsburgh is 6-3 SU in its last 9 games vs Washington.
  • Pittsburgh is 2-8 SU in its last 10 games on the road.
  • The total has gone OVER in 10 of Washington’s last 15 games.