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Penguins Vs. Capitals: Rivals To Play Without Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom

Two former powerhouses face off in D.C. Wednesday night.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals is checked by Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at Verizon Center on December 1, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals is checked by Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at Verizon Center on December 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Two former Eastern Conference powerhouses face off Wednesday night in Washington as the Capitals host the Penguins at 7:30. NBCSN will have coverage of the game.

The two teams have had rough seasons and are now on the fringes of playoff contention. The Pens (21-16-4) have lost five in a row amidst a spate of injuries to top players like Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Jordan Staal. The Capitals are at 21-17-2 and have lost two in a row in a brief West Coast swing against the Sharks and Kings, allowing five goals in each game.

The good news for the Caps is that they're returning home, where they're 14-5-1 this year. The bad news for them is that they're not totally immune to the injury bug that has infected the Penguins. The Caps will be without points leader Nicklas Backstrom, who was placed on IR Wednesday after being hit in the head in last week's game against the Flames.

For more on the Penguins, check out PensBurgh. For more on the Caps, there's Japers' Rink.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.