Washington Capitals (14-2-4) vs Montreal Canadiens (10-5-4)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Ilya Samsonov||5-1-1||2.45 / .915% / 0|
|Montreal Canadiens||Carey Price||9-4-2||2.65 / .916% / 1|
Coming off a thrilling shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals are fired up to face-off against the Montreal Canadiens tonight back in DC. In the past, the first night of a back-to-back has treated Washington well. For some context, Washington played 12 back-to-backs last season. Eight of the ‘first-night’ games resulted in wins, and on three occasions, the Caps were able to win both games (HockeyReference). During the 2018-19 season, the Capitals defeated the Habs in 2 of 3 meetings, once at home, and once on the road. The last time these two teams played, Washington beat Montreal 2-1, with the first goal of the night coming from former-Canadien Lars Eller. That win also guaranteed another Metropolitan Division title for the Capitals.
The Washington Capitals, who lead the league in points, goal-scoring, wins, and goal-differential, have scored at least two goals in every game, and that streak also continued tonight (NHL.com). Wednesday nights’ smack-down with the Flyers definitely wasn’t their best performance of the season, but the Capitals still managed to snag two points with a 2-1 shootout win. Caps’ defenseman Radko Gudas expressed his desire to ‘stick it’ to his former team, and he did just that. Gudas committed five hits of his own, tied for the most in one game with captain Alex Ovechkin. Just past the six-minute mark of the first period, Brendan Leipsic scored his 2nd goal of the season, giving the Capitals a lead that would hold as the only goal of the game, for 48 minutes (NHL.com, Washington Capitals). John Carlson was credited with the primary assist, and improved his record to points in 16 of 20 games. Washington held the Flyers to just five shots on goal in the first period, whereas the Caps more than tripled up theirs. Claude Giroux, who I reported only had four goals through 17 games, finally got the Flyers on the board, six minutes and 38 seconds into the final frame. The goal came on the Flyers’ 4th power play of the game, after Nic Dowd went off for tripping. Jakub Vrana served the minor penalty, as Dowd suffered a hand injury prior to committing the penalty. Sometimes, the best player on the ice will be your goalie, and that was certainly the case last night. In the second, Philadelphia doubled up 12 shots to the Caps’ six. At the end of regulation, Braden Holtby had allowed just one goal on 27 shots faced, his best showing of the season thus far. Tied at one goal apiece, the Capitals and Flyers would head to overtime for what felt like the 100th time in 20 games. Although both teams had a handful of prime opportunities, both Braden Holtby for the Capitals and Carter Hart for the Flyers were simply unbeatable in the overtime period. Sudden death 3-on-3 overtime concluded without a winner, so for the third straight game for Philadelphia, a shootout would decide who will steal an extra point with the win. The Washington Capitals have gone to overtime or a shootout five times in their last eight games, and the Philadelphia Flyers, five in their last six. Jakub Voracek would shoot first, but Braden Holtby successfully stopped his attempt. Versus the Coyotes, TJ Oshie missed his attempt, but this time, he snuck the puck past Carter Hart, giving the Capitals a one-nil advantage. Claude Giroux, who scored the single Flyers’ goal, tricked Holtby with his questionable stop-on-a-dime deke. Luckily for the Capitals’, Evgeny Kuznetsov would beat Hart, and Holtby would stop Philadelphias’ third shot attempt, securing Washingtons’ 14th win. The win would assure that a 12-game point streak was extended to 13. Ilya Samsonov, who still has just one regulation loss (a game in which he was calling in to relieve Holtby), is expect to start tonight for the Capitals.
The Montreal Canadiens were last active on Tuesday night, where they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, also in a shootout. Montreal currently ranks 6th in goals for, scoring an average of 3.44 goals per game, as compared to Washingtons’ 1st place 3.85 goals for. The Habs rank 9th in shots on goal at 33.5%. but are 10th in shooting percentage, which is good for the Capitals and their goalies. Montreals’ special teams aren’t spectacular, with their power play operating at 20.7% efficiency, good enough for 14th overall, and their abysmal penalty kill, at 73.7% (28th place) (TheScore, Montreal Canadiens). Only the Los Angeles Kings (31st in standings), Winnipeg Jets (13th in standings), and Detroit Red Wings (29th in standings) have worse penalty kill percentages (NHL.com, NHL Hockey Standings). Joel Armia leads the team with three power play goals, and Tomas Tatar, Shea Weber, and Jeff Petry each have two. Impressively enough, the Canadiens have eight players with 10 or more points, and all but four players on their roster have at least one goal. Brendan Gallagher leads with eight goals, closely followed by Jonathan Drouin (7G). In their meeting with Columbus, Eric Robinson for the Blue Jackets would start the scoring, tallying his first NHL career goal. The entire second period was fairly uneventful, though the Canadiens successfully killed off two Columbus power plays. At the 3:27 mark of the third period, Brendan Gallagher would score for Montreal, tying the game 1-1. With just under two minutes remaining, Zach Werenski broke the tie, giving Columbus a one-goal lead. However, Tomas Tatar, in scoring his 6th goal of the season, re-established a tie-game, nearly guaranteeing at least a single point for Montreal. The 3-on-3 overtime period was scoreless, though Columbus registered three shots on goal to Montreals’ zero (TheScore, CBJ @ MTL). In the shootout, both Cam Atkinson and Paul Byron missed their shots, and Gustav Nyquist missed in the second round. Jonathan Drouin successfully scooped the puck past Blue Jackets’ back-up goaltender Elvis Merzlikins. With both third round shooters failing their attempts, the Montreal Canadiens would be the winner of this match, 3-2. Veteran goaltender Carey Price ended the night with a .943 save percentage, having stopped 33 of 35 shots faced, and is expected to start tonight (TheScore, Carey Price).
Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin are both listed as day-to-day with upper body injuries. Earlier today, we reported that Dowd skated solo this morning, and Hagelin was first on the ice for the Capitals’ optional practice. Neither Nic nor Carl are slated for tonights’ lineup. As of 3:00pm this afternoon, the Washington Capitals have called up defenseman Tyler Lewington from the Hershey Bears. This post will continue to be updated as we obtain more thorough information regarding the status of Dowd and Hagelin. The Montreal Canadiens are without Jesperi Kotkaniemi (DL-Groin).
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.
Hershey Bears Hockey. (2019). Capitals Recall Tyler Lewington. Retrieved from https://www.hersheybears.com/news/detail.php?id=6021.
HockeyReference. (2019). 2018-19 Washington Capitals Schedule and Results. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/WSH/2019_games.html.
TheScore. (2019). Carey Price: Stats, Age, News. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/s/12465602.
TheScore. (2019). Columbus Blue Jackets @ Montreal Canadiens. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/21999.
TheScore. (2019). Montreal Canadiens News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/3.
NHL.com. (2019). NHL Hockey Standings. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/standings/2019/league.
TheScore. (2019). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.
NHL.com. (2019). Washington Capitals – Philadelphia Flyers. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/gamecenter/wsh-vs-phi/2019/11/13/2019020283#game=2019020283,game_state=final.