For those keeping score at home, currently the results are as follows: Sid 2, Ovie 0.
With a gold medal winning performance at last month's Winter Olympics in Vancouver paired with a Stanley Cup ring earned last season, Sidney Crosby holds a two title advantage over his Russian rival Alexander Ovechkin.
Compounding the matter is that Ovechkin's title hopes the past two years have been dashed at the hands of Crosby led teams; first in last year's NHL Eastern Conference semifinal when Ovechkin's Capitals fell in seven games to Crosby's Penguins, and more recently in Vancouver when Canada eliminated Russia from medal contention at the Olympics.
With the Capitals currently running away with the Eastern Conference, the time may be right for Ovechkin to exact a measure of revenge.
Tonight, the Capitals and Penguins clash for the third of four meetings on the season with the Caps winning both encounters. With Washington and Pittsburgh sitting one-two in the Conference it is a great opportunity for one contender to send a message to another.
"If I was sitting on the couch and watching this game, I would be anticipating it greatly because every time Ovechkin plays against Crosby it seems like something special comes out of it," head coach Bruce Boudreau told NHL.com on Tuesday.
While storylines abound heading into the game, the ongoing rivalry between the sport's biggest two stars remains the most prominent.
From a statistical standpoint, Crosby continues to hold the edge head-to-head. In 17 regular season games against the Caps, Crosby has potted 11 goals and added 18 assists for 29 points while Ovechkin has managed 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points against the Pens. Ovechkin does hold a 14 -13 points advantage in the post-season, however Crosby owns the most important statistic, wins, which are 4-3 in his favour. That is the result that Ovechkin would most like to change.
Ovechkin would also like to erase some not so fond memories from Vancouver where a star studded Russian side that was expected by many to capture the gold, went home empty handed. In addition to their substandard results, Ovechkin faced criticism after a video was posted on YouTube where the sniper is seen shoving a fan with a video camera the night after Russia was eliminated from the tournament. It was a bad ending to what was described as a “disastrous” Olympics for by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and caused Russian Olympic Committee head Leonid Tyagachev to resign his post.
As for Crosby, a Hollywood script writer could not have crafted a better ending to his Olympic experience, scoring the winning goal in overtime to secure gold for Canada on home soil against one of their biggest International rivals. The only way it may have been sweeter for Crosby is if the game had been against Ovechkin's Russian side.
While Olympic memories remain fresh, these are two teams that are clearly looking toward the future as both sides clearly have Stanley Cup aspirations.
A win for either team tonight could be the first step towards that goal.