Oates picks Neuvirth to face Penguins

Oates picks Neuvirth to face Penguins
January 15, 2014, 12:45 pm
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Highlights: Sharks 2, Capitals 1 (SO)

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

PITTSBURGH -- The numbers were simply too hard to ignore.

In five career starts against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Michal Neuvirth is 2-0-2 with a 1.71 goals-against average and .937 save percentage.

In four career starts against the Pens, Braden Holtby is 0-4-0 with a 4.37 GAA and .874 save percentage.

With that in mind, Capitals coach Adam Oates decided to give Neuvirth his second start in four games when the Capitals [22-16-8, 52 points] visit the Penguins [33-12-2, 68 points] tonight at Consol Energy Center [8 p.m., NBCSN].

The start will also be Neuvirth’s second since Nov. 22, before rookie Philipp Grubauer burst onto the scene to steal the No. 1 job away from Holtby and Neuvirth.

Including Friday night’s 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Neuvirth is 3-3-1 this season with a 2.72 GAA and .916 save percentage.

In addition to trying to fight his way back into the goaltending mix in Washington, Neuvirth could also be trying to play his way onto another NHL team. He has repeatedly stated he would like to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL and his agent made it clear last month that he’d like to see the 25-year-old goalie traded.

With Neuvirth getting the start against the Pens, it seems logical that Holtby will make an appearance between the pipes in Columbus on Friday night. Holtby is 13-11-2, with a 3.08 GAA and .910 save percentage this season but has allowed five goals in each of his last five starts.

[RELATED: Caps hope to summon energy vs. Penguins]

Holtby has not won a game since Dec. 7 against Nashville. Since then he has started just four of the Capitals’ last 15 games.

Ovechkin on Today Show: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will appear on NBC’s Today Show on Monday, Jan. 20. Ovechkin will be live at RockefellerCenter in New York City and will be interviewed by hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie about his recent selection to represent Team Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Ovechkin has represented Russia in two Olympics, three World Junior Championships, nine World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey. Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, he leads all players in goals, points, power-play goals, power-play points and game-winning goals.