No rivalry has electrified NHL fans during the past 15 seasons quite like Sidney Crosby‘s Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Alex Ovechkin‘s Washington Capitals. But the two superstars are still playing as well as ever, with Ovechkin chasing down Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record and Sid inspiring the league’s next wave of talent.
The saga continues on Friday night as the Penguins visit the Capitals, available only on ESPN+, and featuring the Star Watch experience as an alternate streaming option.
To help get you ready for the matchup, we’ve put together a guide on all the key players to watch for both teams, in-depth statistical insights on the Penguins and Capitals from ESPN Stats & Information, and more.
This season, ESPN+ will broadcast 75 exclusive regular-season games, with ABC and ESPN airing a combined 28 exclusive regular-season games for a total of 103 games. The complete broadcast schedule can be found here.
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6:55 p.m. ET | Watch live on ESPN+
Line: Washington -140 | Over/under: 6
ESPN Power Rankings: 13
Goalie confidence rank: 10
Leading scorer: Jake Guentzel, 27 points in 24 games
2021-22 record: 12-8-5, fourth in Metro Division
Penguins leading goal (15) and point scorer (27) Jake Guentzel will be out week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Guentzel had a 13-game point streak going, which was the longest active streak in the NHL and third-longest this season. Guentzel also had a point in all 12 road games he’s played in this season, and his 19 road points were tied with Connor McDavid for fourth in the NHL.
The Penguins are 2-1-1 on their five-game road trip. Entering Wednesday, the Penguins are tied with the Minnesota Wild for the sixth-best road points percentage this season (.654, 7-3-3)
Crosby has an assist in six consecutive games, which enters Wednesday as tied for the second-longest active streak with Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov and trailing only Rangers defenseman Adam Fox at seven straight. Entering Wednesday, Crosby’s 11 points since Nov. 26 are one point shy of the most in the NHL over that span.
After having the league’s worst power play through Nov. 15, the Penguins have converted 26.9% of their power plays in the last 11 games, which ranks fifth since Nov. 16.
Pittsburgh has not lost in regulation when leading after two periods this season (11-0-1) but it has yet to win when trailing after two periods this season (0-7-2).
Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry ranks fourth in goals saved above expectation, at +9.2 (meaning he has prevented 9.2 goals vs. expectations based on shot quality and quantity). Last season, Jarry ranked 55th in that department, at -7.3 (minimum 10 games).
ESPN Power Rankings: 4
Goalie confidence rank: 14
Leading scorer: Alex Ovechkin, 41 points in 26 games
2021-22 record: 16-4-6, first in Metro division
The Capitals won 6-1 win over the Penguins in their first matchup of the season (Nov. 14), the second-largest margin of victory by the Capitals over the Penguins since Crosby and Ovechkin came into the league in 2005-06 (Caps won 7-1 on Nov. 16, 2016). Friday will mark the sixth straight matchup between the teams played in Washington (Caps are 2-1-2 in the previous five).
The Capitals enter Wednesday in first place by points in the division, with 38; however, the Rangers (37) have a better points percentage (.771 vs .731). The Capitals’ 38 points are tied for third most through the first 26 games in franchise history.
Ovechkin reached the 20-goal and 20-assist mark for the season on Monday in his 26th game, the quickest he’s reached those marks in a single season. His previous mark was 29 games in 2009-10, when he finished second (Crosby was third) in the Hart Trophy voting as MVP, behind Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin.
Ovechkin has been a playmaker too, leading the NHL with 16 assists at 5-on-5, his most already for a season since 2018-19 (he had 20 over the previous two seasons combined). He has eight primary 5-on-5 assists this season, one more than he had in 2020-21 and 2019-20 (seven each).
Hits have been tracked by the NHL since 2005-06, Ovechkin’s first season in the NHL. Ovechkin’s career hit total ranks fourth among all players in that span. The other players that rank in the top 5 since 2005-06 — Dustin Brown, Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin and Milan Lucic — collectively have fewer career goals than Ovechkin.
The second period has been a strong point for the Capitals this season, as they enter Wednesday with the most goals (34) and the highest goal differential in that stanza (+11).