Tuesday NHL Picks

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their hockey picks and predictions for Tuesday, January 20.

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Carolina Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:35PM ET

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded for a backup goaltender over the weekend to give struggling starter Marc-Andre Fleury some competition.

If his first start since the deal is any indication, Fleury got the message.

Coming off two solid starts - including a shutout in his latest game - Fleury and the Penguins will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, looking for a third straight victory for the first time since mid-November.

Pittsburgh (23-20-4) has been one of the league's biggest disappointments following its trip to the Stanley Cup finals last season, sitting in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and going 9-14-1 since the beginning of December.

Fleury finished an injury-plagued regular season in 2007-08 at 19-10-2 with a 2.33 goals-against average, but he's been far less dependable so far this season. After a 6-3 loss to Washington on Wednesday, Fleury fell to 13-11-2 with a 3.01 GAA.

He made 21 saves on Friday in a 3-1 victory over Anaheim, though, a day before the Penguins swapped backup goaltenders with Edmonton, dealing Dany Sabourin for the younger Mathieu Garon.

Coach Michel Therrien had publicly questioned Fleury's play, but with Garon on his way, Fleury stepped up again on Sunday. Facing the division rival New York Rangers, Fleury stopped all 33 shots he saw, posting his second shutout of the season in Pittsburgh's 3-0 win.

NBA Free Pick: Pittsburgh  View Game Matchup | Best Line: -160 Sportsbook.com

Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators, 7:35PM ET

Following a brief slump, Alexander Ovechkin has quickly gotten back on track and so have the Washington Capitals.

Given Ovechkin's recent history against Ottawa, that could mean a long night for the Senators (15-21-7) when they host the reigning league MVP and the Capitals (30-14-3) on Tuesday.

By scoring his 30th and 31st goals in Monday's 2-1 overtime victory at the New York Islanders, Ovechkin took over sole possession as the NHL's goal-scoring leader for the first time this season, one ahead of Philadelphia's Jeff Carter.

After a four-game drought, the Washington winger has scored four times during the Capitals' three-game win streak. Washington had lost three straight before its recent string of victories, but remains one of the league's hottest teams with 16 wins in its last 21 games.

Ovechkin scored twice in the teams' previous meeting - a 5-1 home victory Dec. 12, giving him nine goals in his last seven games against the Senators. He has also scored six times in his last four trips to Scotiabank Place and tied career highs there on Dec. 29, 2007, with four goals and five points in an 8-6 victory.

In addition to Ovechkin, the Capitals have gotten strong contributions from Mike Green and Alexander Semin during their win streak.

NBA Free Pick: Ottawa View Game Matchup | Best Line: +210 Sportsbook.com

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Posted: 1/20/09 9:30AM ET

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