Washington Capitals (15-3-4) vs Anaheim Ducks (10-9-2)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||10-1-3||2.97 / .904% / 0|
|Anaheim Ducks||John Gibson||7-9-0||2.83 / .915% / 0|
Tonight, the Washington Capitals will play the Anaheim Ducks back at Capital One Arena. Although the last time these two teams played each other was back on February 17th, 2019, with the Capitals losing 5-2, most fans remember the heartbreaking 6-5 loss that came versus Anaheim last December, after Washington gave up a lead by allowing five unanswered goals. This time around, the Washington Capitals are looking to avoid a similar fate. For comparisons’ sake, the Ducks’ record one year ago to the day was 8-9-4, and the Capitals’, 9-7-3 (HockeyReference).
On Saturday, the Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins for the 15th time in 16 meetings, in a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat 3-2 shootout win. Due to salary cap restraints, the Capitals were forced to send down goaltender Ilya Samsonov and Tyler Lewington to the Hershey Bears, and brought up Travis Boyd and Vitek Vanecek. After losing the previous nights’ match to the Montreal Canadiens, head coach Todd Reirden wanted to send a message, and thus scrambled up all four lines, and started veteran goaltender Braden Holtby. Promoted to the top line were Tom Wilson and Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Reirden swapped Richard Panik from the 3RW to the 3LW spot, dropped Chandler Stephenson to the 4C position, and brought up Hathaway from the 4RW to the 3RW position. The Capitals received the first power play of the night at the eight-minute mark as David Pastrnak went off for hooking. The Capitals would not convert. 90 seconds later, Charlie Coyle, for the second time in as many nights, scored the first goal of the game, giving the Bruins a first period 1-0 lead. However, three minutes later, Travis Boyd, who had just been called down from Hershey, scored his first goal of the season to tie the game 1-1. The Bruins would receive their first power play with 39 seconds remaining in the first period, and would start the second with the man advantage. The Capitals successfully killed off the Gudas penalty, but three minutes and 30 seconds into the middle frame, David Pastrnak scored his 17th of the season, renewing Bostons’ lead. After having just one point in four games, it was only a matter of time until Pastrnak struck again. Still, just two points in five games would be considered a slump for the Czech winger. The Caps’ would be given the opportunity to even up the score as Danton Heinen would be called for hooking, but was unable to do so. Goaltender Braden Holtby would actually be called for tripping, but Bostons’ 3rd ranked power play still did not convert. The Bruins would get another power play just before the second expired, and for the second time, Boston would start the next period on a power play. The Capitals killed off Bostons’ third power play, and successfully kept them off the board. Tom Wilson and Zdeno Chara received matching minors at the 13:59 mark, but the score remained unchanged. Time was winding down in the third period, and Todd Reirden elected to pull Braden Holtby for the extra skater, hoping to tie the game with two minutes left. Versus the Canadiens, the Capitals allowed an empty net goal. However, with 59 seconds left, TJ Oshie scored the game-tying goal, assuring that the Capitals would earn at least a single point. The sudden-death 3-on-3 overtime period would end without a winner, and a shootout would decide the victor. TJ Oshie missed on his opportunity, and Charlie Coyle who started the scoring for Boston, would give the Bruins the advantage in the shootout. Evgeny Kuznetsov missed, and Holtby robbed Pastrnak. Nicklas Backstrom, who won the shootout for the Caps vs Vancouver, finally solved Halak, and Brad Marchand missed for Boston. Alex Ovechkin missed for the Capitals, but David Krejci would also miss. Jakub Vrana, a la Pavel Datsyuk, would trick Halak giving Washington their first ‘lead’ of the game. That shootout attempt would be the eventual winning goal for the Capitals, as Holtby denied Chris Wagner. This would be the second time the young winger would win a shootout for the Capitals just this season alone. The Capitals peppered Jaroslav Halak with 44 shots on goal, setting a season-high. Braden Holtby stopped 21 of 23 shots faced, earning him a .913 save percentage. Holtby is expected to start tonight. It is worth noting that in his last 10 appearances, Braden Holtby is 9-0-1, with a 2.44GAA, and a .924 save percentage. A 2.44 GAA places him in 6th and his SV% 4th among top 10 goalies, with at least 10 starts since October 18th. However, his W-L-OTL record place him first among all NHL goalies (QuantHockey).
The Anaheim Ducks, who are just 4-4-2 in their last 10, defeated the reigning Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Ryan Getzlaf scored his 8th goal of the season just four minutes into the game. A minute and 41 seconds later, Derek Grant would add to the Ducks’ lead, as he scored his 3rd of the year. The Blues were absolutely stifled by Anaheim, despite the Ducks having lost five of their last six starts. Vince Dunn scored the singular goal for St. Louis at the 3:14 mark of the second period. The Blues received their first power play just short of six minutes into the second, as Dylan Shore was called for high-sticking. However, it was Derek Grant who would score a shorthanded goal, his 2nd of the game, and the Blues would expire their power play without a goal. Derek Grant would complete his first career hat trick as he scored an empty net goal at the 18:21 mark of the final frame. Jakob Silfverberg leads the Ducks with 9 goals and 17 assists, and Ryan Getzlaf, Adam Henrique, and Rickard Rakell are tied with 14 points each. Anaheim have just 4 wins on the road this season, but the Caps are only slightly better at home with 5. The Ducks’ power play all but bottoms out at 30 of 31, operating at just 9.1% efficiency. They allow just 2.91 goals against, on average (T-9th fewest) but they average 2.71 goals for (T-23rd), which, for the 2nd place Capitals, should be easy to overcome (TheScore, Anaheim Ducks). Versus the Blues, the Ducks were outshot 38 to 25, but goaltender John Gibson allowed just one goal (TheScore, ANA @ STL). Gibson, who has won 7 of 16 starts, is expected to start for Anaheim tonight.
Carl Hagelin skated in a non-contact jersey this morning, and despite still being listed as day-to-day, staff suggests that he is improving. He will not dress tonight, and thus, will miss his sixth straight game. Nic Dowd’s injury seems to have been more severe than first anticipated, and did not skate this morning. We will continue to update this article as we receive further information from the Washington Capitals. The Anaheim Ducks will be without Patrick Eaves (IR-NR, undisclosed), Ryan Kesler (IR-NR, hip), Hampus Lindholm (DL, undisclosed), and Josh Manson (DL, knee).
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.
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HockeyReference. (2019). 2018-19 Washington Capitals Schedule and Results. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/WSH/2019_games.html.
TheScore. (2019). Anaheim Ducks News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/21.
TheScore. (2019). Anaheim Ducks @ St. Louis Blues. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/22035.
QuantHockey. (2019). 2019-2020 NHL Goalie Stats. Retrieved from https://www.quanthockey.com/nhl/seasons/2019-20-nhl-goalies-stats.html?sd=2019-10-18&ed=2019-11-17.