The Washington Capitals may have been the top team in the NHL during the regular season, but if they don’t beat the Pittsburgh Penguins this Wednesday (8 PM ET, NBCSN) in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal, it could mean an early trip to the golf course. Pittsburgh carries a 2-1 series lead into Wednesday’s game at the Consol Energy Center after beating the Caps 3-2 Monday night as a –140 home favourite.
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Not much has gone right for the Capitals since they took a 3-0 lead over the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round. Washington has lost four of the past six games, and defenseman Brooks Orpik (three goals, plus-11) was handed a three-game suspension for a late hit on Pittsburgh blueliner Olli Maatta. Orpik won’t be available until Game 6 – if the Capitals make it that far.
The Penguins have accomplished all this without the services of their No. 1 goaltender; Marc-Andre Fleury (.921 save percentage) has been out with a concussion since early April. Matt Murray (.930 SV%) started the last six games for Pittsburgh, and his only loss was in Game 1 of this series, when Washington (–135 at home) prevailed 4-3 in overtime.
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