Holiday Matinee: Washington Capitals vs Colorado Avalanche

Washington Capitals (3-1-2) v. Colorado Avalanche (4-0-0)

 Predicted GoaltenderRecord (W-L-OTL)GAA/SV%
Washington CapitalsBraden Holtby1-1-23.67/.868
Colorado AvalanchePhilipp Grubauer3-0-02.33/.931

 

The Washington Capitals returned home after a two-game road swing, where they lost to the Nashville Predators, but managed to beat the Dallas Stars in regulation for the first time since 1995. Tonight, they will play the undefeated Colorado Avalanche, in hopes of winning their first game on home ice this season. It is the first chance the Capitals have to play against former Caps’ forward Andre Burakovsky since trading him to Colorado in the off-season.

The Washington Capitals made history on Saturday night, with a 4-1 regulation win over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center. Ilya Samsonov, who had been entrusted with goal-tending duties for the night, was absolutely incredible between the pipes. Samsonov allowed just one goal on 25 shots, and won his second game in as many attempts. He now boasts the best save percentage and goals-against in the league, with a .961% and 1.00GAA (minimum 2 games played) (NHL.com, Samsonov). The win ended a three-game losing streak, and despite the Stars’ having received six power play opportunities, the Caps killed off every single one, and managed to convert on two-of-five of their own (TheScore, DAL v WSH). Tom Wilson scored an early power play goal, giving the Caps a 1-0 advantage not even five minutes into the contest after the Stars received a four-minute double minor penalty for high-sticking. John Carlson would add to that lead in the second, and now leads the leagues’ defensemen in points (10) and assists (8) (NHL.com, John Carlson). Evgeny Kuznetsov would score his second of the season before Radek Faksa gave the Stars life, tallying the score to 3-1, Caps. Alex Ovechkin would pot an empty net goal with under a minute remaining in regulation to seal the deal for the Capitals. Washingtons’ penalty kill is good enough for 9th in the league, but internally, the Caps have killed off 16 of 19 penalties taken through 5 games, which so far is a massive improvement over last seasons’ penalty kill. Preliminary reports suggest that Braden Holtby will start for the Capitals tonight, but with Samsonovs’ stunning performance on Saturday, that decision is yet to be finalized.

The Colorado Avalanche is in the midst of their best start in six seasons. Colorado beat the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday by a score of 3-2, but it took extra time for the score to be settled. Former Capital Andre Burakovsky has two goals through four games, both of which were back-to-back overtime game-winning-goals. Mikko Rantanen leads the Avs with 4 goals, including two on the power play, and is tied with Nathan MacKinnon with 6 points a-piece. Rookie defenseman Cale Makar has tallied five assists, and is playing just under 20 minutes per game (TheScore, Cale Makar). Makar tallied assists on both third period goals by the Avalanche in their most recent game versus Arizona. Phillip Grubauer and new back-up goaltender Pavel Francouz have impressive numbers to start the season, and it is expected that Grubauer will start against his former team tonight.

Per The Athletic, Caps’ defenseman Michal Kempny reported to Tarik El-Bashir earlier yesterday afternoon that he “feels ready to go” but is awaiting full clearance from medical staff before being inserted into future lineups. He likely will not play tonight versus the Avalanche, and will most likely make his season debut on Wednesday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs (CBSSports).

Coverage of the game begins at 4:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 4:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 5:00pm.

 

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NHL.com. (2019). Ilya Samsonov Stats and News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/ilya-samsonov-8478492.

NHL.com. (2019). John Carlson Stats and News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/john-carlson-8474590.

RotoWire Staff. (2019). Capitals’ Michal Kempny: Feels ready to go. Retrieved from https://www.cbssports.com/fantasy/hockey/news/capitals-michal-kempny-feels-ready-to-go/.

TheScore. (2019). Cale Makar Stats, Age, News. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/players/8539.

TheScore. (2019). WAS v DAL. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/21796.

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