Washington Capitals (13-2-3) vs Arizona Coyotes (9-6-2)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Ilya Samsonov||5-1-0||2.38 / .915% / 0|
|Arizona Coyotes||Antti Raanta||2-1-2||3.12 / .912% / 0|
The Washington Capitals are the team to beat. Leading the league in wins, points, goal-scoring, goal differential, shot percentage, and riding a six-game win streak, Washington has set franchise records and established themselves once again as a dominating powerhouse in just a month and a half’s’ time. Tonight, the Capitals will face the Arizona Coyotes, who are 9-6-2 and just a smidgen over .500 on the season. The last time Washington faced the desert dogs was in December 2018, where the Caps won 4-2.
On Saturday night, the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2 at Capital One Arena. Many speculated there would be some fist-throwing between Tom Wilson and the infamous Ryan Reaves, and during the Caps’ pregame skate, the two exchanged pleasantries. Although the two did not drop the gloves, there was plenty of beef between the 2018 Stanley Cup Champions and the 2018 Stanley Cup Losers. Less than 60 seconds past puck drop, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his 6th goal of the season, giving the Capitals an early 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, Tom Wilson scored his third goal in two games, thus adding to the Caps lead, and extending his three-game point streak to four. With all of the first period scoring coming within the first 10 minutes, Max Pacioretty scored his 5th of the season, cutting the Caps’ lead in half. Washington received two power plays in the first period, but were unable to convert on either. Radko Gudas was called for interference with just seconds remaining in the period, and therefore, Vegas would start the second on the power play. Fortunately, the Capitals were able to kill off the remainder of the Gudas penalty. 15 minutes into the second period, Jonas Siegenthaler, on the anniversary of his NHL debut, scored his first NHL goal, re-establishing the Capitals’ 2-goal lead. Siegenthaler leads the team in blocked shots (39) and has been absolutely pivotal in the retooling of the penalty kill (NHL.com, Jonas Siegenthaler). Shortly thereafter, Garnet Hathaway would be called for elbowing, and the Golden Knights would receive their second power play, but this time, Riley Smith would sneak the puck past Braden Holtby, once again cutting into Washingtons’ lead. After the horn signaling the end of the second period, both the Capitals and Golden Knights got into it, and Vegas again, would start the subsequent period on a power play. The Capitals again successfully killed off the two-minute roughing minor, and kept Vegas off the board for the remainder of the game, holding them to just two goals. At the 11:30 mark, Nicklas Backstrom would score the Capitals singular power play goal of the night, doubling up 4-2 over the Golden Knights. Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant would elect to pull Marc-Andre Fleury with two minutes remaining in the game, and after about 10 shot attempts, Nicklas Backstrom would score his second of the game, an empty-net goal, sealing the Caps’ 6th consecutive win. Braden Holtby ended the night with a .938 save percentage, allowing just two goals on 32 shots. Ilya Samsonov, who has not lost a single game of those he has started, is expected to play tonight versus the Arizona Coyotes.
The Arizona Coyotes, having also played on Saturday, lost to the struggling Minnesota Wild after blowing a three-goal lead in the second period. The Coyotes haven’t been awful to start off the season, though they have lost their last three, won just two of their last six, and are 5-4-1 in their last 10. Michael Grabner and Jakob Chychrun gave Arizona a two-nil lead heading into the first intermission. However, the Minnesota Wild, who have been bad thus far, rallied together, scored three in the 2nd, and a fourth in the final frame, to defeat the Coyotes, 4-3. A power play goal from Mikko Koivu brought the game back within reach for the Wild, and although Vinnie Hinestroza scored the Coyotes’ third goal five minutes later, that would be the last goal scored by Arizona. Kevin Fiala and Matt Dumba both scored before the second period expired, tying the game at three goals each. Ryan Hartman would score the eventual game-winning goal less than five minutes into the final frame. Last season, Arizona boasted one of the best power play and penalty kill units in the league, but just a year later, both are ranked 20th and 22nd respectively (TheScore, Arizona Coyotes). The Coyotes, however, are tied for second fewest goals allowed at 2.41, compared to the Capitals’ 3.06, good enough for T-18th (TheScore, Arizona)(TheScore, Washington). Nick Schmaltz, who was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks last November in exchange for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini, leads Arizona in points and assists with 15 and 11, respectively. Conor Garland, in his second season in the NHL, leads the Coyotes with 7 goals. Former Hershey Bears defenseman Aaron Ness was acquired by Arizona, and in 7 games, has just one point, courtesy of a single assist. Darcy Kuemper, who has struggled with injuries in recent years, is 7-5-0 in 12 games played, but back-up goaltender Antti Raanta is expected to start for Arizona tonight.
Yesterday, the Washington Capitals placed defenseman Tyler Lewington on waivers, with the intent to send him back down to Hershey. Roster space was needed, as Richard Panik, who has been on injured reserve, is expected to play tonight. Panik last played October 16th, versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he suffered an upper body injury. Carl Hagelin and Travis Boyd were not present for today’s morning skate. The Arizona Coyotes will be without the services of Niklas Hjalmarsson (DL- lower leg), and Marian Hossa (IR-NR, illness). Jason Demers, who is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury, is undetermined.
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). Jonas Siegenthaler Stats & News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/jonas-siegenthaler-8478399.
TheScore. (2019). Arizona Coyotes News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/24.
TheScore. (2019). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.