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Double Agents: “Penguitals” Through the Years

Where we look at nuggets of knowledge about players who have skated for both the Capitals and Penguins in their NHL careers.

Penguins v Capitals Photo by Mitchell Layton /Getty Images/NHLI

The first series between the Capitals and Penguins this week in Pittsburgh will mark a homecoming of sorts for Capitals Justin Schultz, Carl Hagelin, Conor Sheary, and Daniel Sprong, all of whom spent time skating in the black and gold of the Penguins earlier in their respective careers.

Back on December 30, we published a little quiz to test your knowledge about “Penguitals,” those 73 players (68 skaters and five goaltenders) who over the course of their respective careers passed through both Washington and Pittsburgh.

Now let’s take a closer look at this odd group that includes legendary players and short-timers alike, players you would instantly recognize and players who you might never have heard of. So let’s get to it…

Did you know:

  • Only one player dressed for the two clubs for a total of more than 1,000 regular season games. That would be Brooks Orpik, who appeared in 703 in the regular season for the Penguins and 332 for the Caps for a total of 1,035 games. If you’re wondering, Jaromir Jagr was close – 996 games, with 806 in Pittsburgh and 190 in DC.
  • Jagr was the only player to post a combined point total over 1,000 points – 1,079 with the Penguins and 201 for the Caps (1,280 total). No one else came close. Sergei Gonchar had 416 points with Washington and 259 points with Pittsburgh (675 points).
  • Only three players dressed for at least 300 games with both clubs, all of them defensemen. In addition to Orpik, Larry Murphy dressed for 453 games with the Caps and 336 with the Penguins, while Gonchar dressed for 654 games in Washington and 322 games with Pittsburgh.
  • Murphy is the only player to have skated for both the Caps and the Penguins to be inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • Only one player dressed for fewer than five games combined for the two clubs. That was Todd Nelson (two with the Caps, one with the Penguins). Turns out those were the only two clubs Nelson played for - and the only three games of his career - in the NHL.
  • Three players logged a total of more than 1,000 penalty minutes in service with the two clubs. Kevin Hatcher had 1,192 penalty minutes (999 with Washington, 193 with Pittsburgh), Bryan Watson had 1,165 penalty minutes (294/871), and Gary Rissling had 1,006 (176/830).
  • Larry Murphy was the only player who was a career plus-50 for the Caps (plus-56) and for the Penguins (plus-102), recording a combined plus-158. At the other end, no player was both minus-50 for the Caps and minus-50 for the Penguins, but Jack Lynch came close. He was minus-133 for the Caps and minus-34 for Pittsburgh for a combined minus-167.
  • Nine players scored a combined 100 or more goals for the Caps and Penguins over their careers. That group includes:

Jaromir Jagr (83 in Washington/439 in Pittsburgh/522 total)
Jean Pronovost (23/316/339)
Sergei Gonchar (144/54/198)
Kevin Hatcher (149/45/194)
Larry Murphy (86/78/164)
Robert Lang (51/103/154)
Eric Fehr (87/14/10)
Greg Polis (13/88/101)
Paul Gardner (2/98/100)

  • There are four members of the 500/500 Club, aka 500 points posted with the two teams and 500 penalty minutes:

Jaromir Jagr (1,280 points/687 penalty minutes)
Sergei Gonchar (675/830)
Larry Murphy (646/545)
Kevin Hatcher (566/1,192)

  • Both Ferraro brothers – Peter and Chris – played for both teams. The twins posted identical 3-5-8 scoring lines for the two clubs.
  • The two clubs also employed two of the Brothers Miller – Kip and Kevin. Kip was 47-106-153, minus-11 for the two clubs, while Kevin was 6-8-14, even in 23 games for the two teams.
  • There have been 25 defensemen to play for both clubs, but only Nolan Baumgartner failed to record a goal with either one (in 18 games for the Caps, 23 games for the Penguins).
  • Of the five goaltenders to play for both clubs, only Tomas Vokoun (the one we forgot in the quiz, for the alert reader) was the only one to post a goals against average under 3.00 for both clubs – 2.51 in 48 games with the Caps, 2.45 in 20 games for the Penguins.
  • Gary Inness and Brent Johnson are the only goalies to appear in at least 50 games for each team, Inness in 54 games for the Caps and 100 for the Penguins, Johnson in 96 games for the Caps and 62 for the Pens.
  • Johnson is the only goalie with at least 20 wins for each club (34 with Washington, 29 with Pittsburgh).
  • Pat Riggin and Rick Tabaracci share an odd fact. Each had six shutouts with the Caps (Riggin in 143 games, Tabaracci in 69 games), while posting none in their respective stays with Pittsburgh (Riggin in 39 games, Tabaracci in only one appearance).

Now, go forth and impress the folks with whom you are watching the games with your impressive knowledge of “Penguital” trivia - and now that we’ve spoon-fed you some more names, maybe take another stab at that quiz and see how you do!