Look back at the rivalry between Sid the Kid and Alexander the Great.
WASHINGTON - In their quest to set the NHL record for consecutive wins, the Washington Capitals face a familiar obstacle: Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The nationally televised Super Bowl Sunday showdown between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals (noon ET, NBC) was a full-go after all — despite 2 feet of snow that paralyzed the nation’s capital and had the visitors scrambling to find a way into town.
With all of the airports in the area shut down, the Penguins had to fly into Newark, N.J., from Montreal after their Saturday afternoon game against the Canadiens. The team then took a five-hour bus ride, making a midnight fast food stop in Maryland, before arriving in Washington at 2:15 a.m.
Hardly ideal for a noon start time.
The Penguins’ travel troubles appeared to give the Capitals’ a greater-than-usual home-ice advantage, but Washington coach Bruce Boudreau begged to differ.
“I think it’s totally opposite. All they had to do was sit on a bus. We had to shovel out our houses and everything else,” Boudreau said before the game.
“Half the city was without power. A lot of the guys have no power. You’re digging out cars left, right and center to get everybody out. I think that’s more taxing than sitting down. Other than a few of their players, they’ve played in the American (Hockey) League before. A bus ride has never hurt anybody.”
Boudreau said all of his players made it to the arena on time, and he quizzed them on how much shoveling they had to do — in case they would be too tired or sore to play.
“Maybe I’m old, but I’m sore,” Boudreau said.
The game was one of the most-anticipated on the schedule, featuring rival teams, superstars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, and a game-of-the-week audience on NBC.
In addition, the Capitals started the day on a 13-game winning streak, four short of the NHL record set by the Penguins in 1992-93.
With Ovechkin at the forefront, the Capitals lead the league in points, wins and goals. They are 22-3-3 at home and have won 10 straight at Verizon Center.
And now they're on the verge of a history-making winning streak.
"It's a neat thing to be a part of," McPhee said. "You don't plan on being involved in something like this. But now that we're in it, let's see what we can do with it."
The Capitals have outscored the opposition 62-29 during their winning streak, which has featured several blowouts but has not been without some close calls. Washington rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the New York Rangers on Thursday night and needed a shootout to defeat Florida in January.
The Capitals are looking to remain on course to make history. As usual, the Penguins stand in their way.
"Well, you're playing against the Stanley Cup Champions. I don't know, but I've got to believe, even if they say we're not a big rival of theirs, that they would take an awful lot of pleasure in beating us on Sunday in our building," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "So, it'll be a big one."
Even if the Capitals win, their path to 17 won't get any easier. Road games at Montreal, Ottawa and St. Louis follow before the Olympic break.
Washington hasn't lost since Jan. 12 at Tampa Bay. It's been a great run, but after the disappointment of being bounced by the Penguins in the postseason, the Capitals know being successful in April and May is all that counts.
"We want to win, but the most important thing is to win in the future," Ovechkin said. "Right now we keep winning, but we're thinking about the playoffs and what we have to do to be better in the playoffs."
PHT: The Penguins' win in Game 4 shoved the Senators to the brink of elimination, but Ottawa has vowed to bring a better effort tonight (Coverage at 6:30 p.m. ET; Live Extra, NBCSN).
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