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CAPITALS (2-7-1) at PENGUINS (7-3-0)
TV: NHLN-US, CSN-DC, ROOT
Season series: The Penguins defeated the Capitals 6-3 at Verizon Center on Sunday in their first meeting of the season. Chris Kunitz had four goals in the contest, including one that was credited to him the next day.
Big story: In something of a reprisal of their paths leading up to the 2011 Winter Classic, the Penguins are surging toward the top of the NHL standings while the Capitals have plummeted to the bottom. Washington is desperate for a victory.
Capitals: Washington is the only team in the Eastern Conference without a road victory, and the Capitals have dropped to 30th place in the NHL standings after four losses in five games. The offense is a problem -- Washington hasn't scored more than three goals in any game this season.
Captain Alex Ovechkin has two goals and four points, and only a single assist at even strength. He is likely to skate with Mike Ribeiro and Wojtek Wolski against the Penguins. Ribeiro, not Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom or Mike Green, has been the team's best and most consistent offensive player this season.
Michal Neuvirth is likely to get his seventh start in goal. Braden Holtby began the season as the No. 1 guy, but that didn't last long. Holtby has allowed at least four goals in three of his four starts, including the six against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Penguins: Pittsburgh was 3-3-0 a week ago and fresh off an ugly 4-1 loss on home ice to the New York Islanders. After four straight victories, including decisive wins against the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and the Capitals, the Penguins are atop the Atlantic Division standings.
Both goaltenders, and in turn the guys in front of them, have played well of late. Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed only three goals in his past two starts after yielding four or more in two of his previous three. Tomas Vokoun shut out the Rangers before beating the Capitals in his first game against his former club.
Who's hot: Ribeiro has three multi-point games in the past six contests. … Sidney Crosby has points in five straight games for the Penguins, including seven in the past three.
Injury report: Brooks Laich (groin) and Jack Hillen (upper body) are skating for the Capitals, but have yet to take part in a full practice. … Matt Niskanen (lower body) is out for the Penguins.