Hunter, a former star player for Washington, took over for the fired Bruce Boudreau on Monday and then debuted for the Capitals in Tuesday's 2-1 regulation loss against visiting St. Louis. It was the third straight loss and seventh setback in nine games for Washington.
"The guys worked hard tonight and played good defensively," said Hunter. "We had our chances there in the third period but weren't able to cash in on them. There's still work to do here, but we'll get it going."
Boudreau had guided Washington to first-place finishes in the Southeast Division in each of the past four years, but he never led the Caps past the second round of the playoffs. Washington was just 12-9-1 under Boudreau this season despite beginning the year with seven straight wins.
The Caps began a three-game homestand on Tuesday and are 8-3-1 as the host this season.
Tonight's test is the second meeting between the Pens and Caps this year and it will mark the first time Crosby and Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin will face off against each other since last year's Winter Classic. Crosby, of course, sustained a concussion in that meeting and would play in just one more game on Jan. 5 before being shut down for the season.
Ovechkin and Crosby have been linked together since entering the league as rookie sensation in 2005-06. Crosby has recorded 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 21 regular-season games against Washington, while Ovechkin has 19 goals and 33 points in 25 tilts versus the Pens.
Crosby finally returned to action on Nov. 21 and already has 11 points (2g, 9a) in five games this year. He had two assists for Pittsburgh in a 4-3 regulation loss to the New York Rangers on Monday. The setback ended a two- game winning streak for the Pens, who fell to 3-1-1 with Crosby in the lineup.
The Penguins surrendered all four goals to New York in the second period on Monday, but rallied to make a game of it after falling behind, 4-1.
"We tried to battle back, but it was a little too late," Crosby said. "They're a good team. It's what we expected."
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang missed Monday's game with a broken nose and is not with the team for tonight's game in D.C. Letang, who leads Pittsburgh defensemen with 19 points, suffered the injury Saturday against Montreal when Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty hit him with an illegal check. Pacioretty received a three-game suspension for the incident.
Letang's fellow defenseman Zbynek Michalek also sat out Monday with an undisclosed injury and he is questionable for tonight.
Pittsburgh, which is making the third stop on a four-game road trip tonight, is 6-6-2 as the visiting team this season. The Pens will complete their swing Saturday at Carolina.
The Capitals have taken four straight from Pittsburgh and have an 8-0-1 record in the last nine meetings between the clubs. Washington has also won three of the last four encounters in D.C.