The ABC Saturday afternoon hockey schedule continues this week with a Metropolitan Division clash, as Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals pay a visit to his old buddy Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, with coverage beginning at 3 p.m. ET and simulcast on ESPN+.
To help get you ready for the game, we've put together a guide on all the key players to watch for each team, including in-depth statistical insights 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.
The Capitals have a 14-6-1 record against the Metropolitan Division this season, the best of any team within that division. That would be the team's third-best record against the Metro since the division was created in 2013-14.
The Capitals come into Saturday's game with a roster that has an average age of 30.0 years, tied with the Islanders for the oldest in the league. The Penguins are tied for the fifth-oldest roster with the Wild at 29.3 years.
Washington has struggled in the faceoff circle, ranking 28th overall (47.4%), last on the power play (46.1%) and 30th in offensive zone draws (45.3%). Among 87 qualifying players, Lars Eller ranks 56th (49.8%) and Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks 84th (43.7%) in faceoff win pct.
Alex Ovechkin stands at 773 goals, leaving him 28 away from tying Gordie Howe for second all-time (801). With 12 games left, if Ovechkin maintains his season pace, he'll finish with exactly 50 goals for the ninth time in his career, which would tie Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most in NHL history.
Ovechkin has reached 300 shots for a 15th time in his 17-year career (301), three more than any other player in NHL history. Only Auston Matthews (314) and David Pastrnak (304) have taken more than Ovechkin this season.
John Carlson is one point shy of his fourth career 60-point season. Over the last five seasons, Carlson has the most assists (250) and points (316) by a defenseman.
Nicklas Backstrom's points-per-game rate of 0.73 would be the lowest of his career. He still has 276 career assists on goals by Alex Ovechkin.
The Penguins played without Sidney Crosby in Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Rangers. They are 5-4-4 when Crosby is out of the lineup this season and 36-17-6 when he does play. One of the biggest differences without Crosby in the lineup is the power play, which converts 9.5% in the 13 games without him (they are at 21.5% overall). For context, the Flyers have the NHL's worst power-play rate at 12.6% this season.
Pittsburgh's three-game losing streak is tied for the team's longest in regulation this season. A loss in regulation in this game would give the Penguins their second-longest losing streak over the last five seasons (6 straight from Feb. 20-29, 2020). Since March 15, the Penguins are 5-6-1 overall and a 2-6-0 mark against teams currently in playoff position, with both victories coming beyond regulation (3-2 shootout win at St. Louis on March 17 and a 4-3 OT win at Minnesota on March 31).
The Penguins are second in penalty kill percentage this season, at 86.0%. They have finished in the top 2 in penalty kill percentage once in team history: 2010-11, when they led the league at 86.1%. Their current conversion rate would rank fourth-highest in a single season in team history (stat first tracked in 1977-78).
Goalie Tristan Jarry has lost four straight starts and is 1-5-0 in his last six appearances with an .891 save percentage. All five of those losses have come against the Rangers (3) and the Avalanche (2).
Bryan Rust has a career-high 57 points this season, 48 of which have come in the 2022 calendar year. The only Penguins player with more in that span is Crosby, with 54. The trio of Crosby, Rust and Jake Guentzel have accounted for 35% of the Penguins goals this season. But since Jan. 1, it's up to 42%.