Washington Capitals (12-2-3) vs Vegas Golden Knights (9-5-3)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||7-1-3||3.36 / .895% / 0|
|Vegas Golden Knights||Marc-Andre Fleury||9-3-1||2.40 / .924% / 1|
After an abbreviated one-game road trip, the Washington Capitals are back in D.C. to take on the Vegas Golden Knights as they try to extend their win-streak to six games. Through 17 games played, 10 have been on the road, and the Capitals have only failed to snag a point just once. The Capitals last played the Golden Knights almost a full year ago, in Vegas, where they ultimately lost 3-5. Fans will never forget the game, as it was during that game when infamous goon and press-box regular Ryan Reaves targeted Capitals’ winger Tom Wilson, committing a blind-sided headshot that knocked Wilson out of commission. Following that game, it had been rumored that Reaves had agreed to sign photos of Tom Wilson laid out on the ice after the hit, where I then personally contacted the memorabilia shop in Las Vegas to confirm the allegations. But tonight, the Capitals will be out to avenge the Knights, and re-establish themselves as the better of the two teams. Besides, one of these teams are Stanley Cup Champions, and the other allowed four goals on a five-minute power play.
The Washington Capitals defeated the Florida Panthers for just the second time in eight meetings on Thursday night. Many anticipated that, like in games past, this would be a high-scoring affair, despite decent goaltending on both sides. Thursday’s match was the first time Washington would face former winger Brett Connolly, since the Panthers signed him to a 4-year/$14 million dollar contact as a free agent in Summer 2019. It was also the Caps’ first opportunity to face goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky since having signed with Florida as well. Characterized by early and late goals, this game was arguably the fastest, most physically demanding game yet for the Capitals. Defenseman John Carlson tallied his 8th goal of the season just 25 seconds into the first period, establishing an early Washington lead. But before the game was two minutes old, Frank Vatrano had tied the game. But that was just the start. Brett Connolly would ultimately add to Florida’s lead, as he scored his 6th goal of the season, with just over five minutes remaining in the first period. The second period was extremely penalty-heavy, but the Capitals improved penalty kill was able to hold the Panthers to just one power play goal on five opportunities. Aleksander Barkov established a two-goal lead 27 seconds into the second. Alex Ovechkin brought the Capitals within one on the power play, and six minutes later, he would score his 13th of the season, and second of the game, tying the game at 3-3. A late goal by Evgenii Dadonov re-established Florida’s lead, but that lead was short lived. Tom Wilson scored the game-tying, and singular, goal of the third period, with his 6th goal coming just 44 seconds after puck drop. The Capitals would hold off the Panthers for the remaining 19 minutes, and yet again, this match would require overtime. After a game-changing stop by Braden Holtby in the Caps’ defensive end, John Carlson gained possession and skated back towards Bobrovsky, with the eventual-game-tying goal scorer Tom Wilson. A perfect pass drew Florida’s goaltender out and allowed Tom Wilson to lift the puck over Bobrovsky, winning it for Washington. Braden Holtby’s 32 save performance improved his record to 7-1-3, and he is expected to start for the Capitals tonight versus the Vegas Golden Knights.
Vegas last played on Thursday as well, where they lost 1-2 in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Watching this game was like watching paint dry. The Golden Knights are 5-2-3 in their last 10 and have dropped four of their last six. Toronto received two power plays in the first, and two in the second, but were unable to score, even on Vegas’ backup Malcolm Subban. The Golden Knights received one power play in each period, but likewise, were unable to score. It took 44 minutes for either team to score the first goal of the game. Max Pacioretty scored in the fourth minute of the final frame to put the Golden Knights on the board, but four minutes later, Auston Matthews finally scored on a Leafs power play, re-establishing a tie, but this time, with actual goals. Like the Capitals, this game as well would need overtime, and it was John Tavares who scored the game-winner at the 2:33 mark of the 3-on-3 period. Mark Stone, who proved to be a worthy mid-season acquisition for the Golden Knights last year, leads the team with 18 points, and Riley Smith leads with 9 goals. The Vegas penalty kill, at 89.2%, is 2nd in the league, but the Golden Knights also accumulate the 3rd most penalty minutes, averaging 10.7 per game (TheScore, Vegas).
UPDATED: Carl Hagelin will not play tonight, as he is currently day-to-day with an upper body injury. Nic Dowd is expected to play tonight, which would be his first game since October 29th, where he suffered a lower body injury and did not finish the game. Richard Panik, who has been on the injured reserve list since the middle of October, is eligible to play versus the Arizona Coyotes on Monday (TheScore, Washington). Vegas forward Valentin Zykov is in the middle of serving a 20-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, a fate that Nate Schmidt faced last season. Alex Tuch is out (again) with an upper body injury that he suffered versus Winnipeg on November 2nd (NHL.com, Alex Tuch). His first injury of the 2019-20 season came on September 19th versus the LA Kings, an injury that sidelined him until Halloween.
Coverage of the game begins at 6:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:00pm.
NHL.com. (2019). Alex Tuch Stats & News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/alex-tuch-8477949.
TheScore. (2019). Vegas Golden Knights News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/102.
TheScore. (2019). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.