The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are set to have a Metropolitan Division battle Tuesday night inside PPG Paints Arena.
But before all of the niceties get thrown out the window, Russian countrymen Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin chatted at the visitor’s bench during the Pens morning skate.
Ovechkin was joined by what looks like members of the Caps’ Russian/Belorussian contingent.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Seth Rorabaugh published the photo.
Evgeni Malkin is at the visiting bench chatting with Alex Ovechkin and a few other Capitals players near the end of the Penguins’ optional morning skate: pic.twitter.com/rR8gVis6co
— Seth Rorabaugh (@SethRorabaugh) February 1, 2022
Malkin will come into the rivalry night’s action on an eight-game point streak. He made his season debut with the Pens on January 11 after undergoing knee surgery this past summer.
Ovechkin on the other hand arrives in Pittsburgh without a point in his last three games which is the longest the Capitals captain has gone without a point this season.
The two Russian superstars once had quite a tumultuous relationship as they’ve been set up as rivals from a very young age but have become close friends as they’ve matured.
“Every time when Caps and Pens play together, it’s lots of attention,” Ovechkin said of the Caps-Pens rivlary after the skate. “Fans go crazy. Media go nuts. It’s pretty cool. I like the atmosphere and the pressure on both teams.”
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette told The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell that Vitek Vanecek will be the starting goaltender for the Caps. It will be Vanecek’s seventh start since January 15 and first since capping off a very successful month for the young netminder that saw him go 4-2-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in his six starts.
The only other news from the morning skate is that defenseman Nick Jensen will be a game-time decision. Jensen has been rotating in on the extra defensive pair with Dennis Cholowski during practice this week. If he is deemed ready to go, you would think he’d be reunited with Dmitry Orlov which would force Justin Schultz back with Trevor van Riemsdyk.
The Pens have lost three in a row all on home ice coming into Tuesday night’s action. They currently sit four points ahead of the Caps in the division with a 27-11-7 record overall.
Headline photo: @SethRorabaugh/Twitter
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