Washington Capitals (16-4-4) vs Vancouver Canucks (11-8-4)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||11-2-3||2.98 / .904 / 0|
|Vancouver Canucks||Jacob Markstrom||6-6-3||2.84 / .909 / 0|
Tomorrow, the Washington Capitals will face-off against the Vancouver Canucks for the second time this season. Puck-drop is just after 12:30pm, so we will see how Washington handles the much earlier start time. The last time these two met, the Capitals pulled out the most monumental comeback of the season thus far. On October 25, the Caps were down 5-1 heading into the final frame, but three goals in five minutes, and four goals in eight gave Washington the chance to win it in overtime. TJ Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom would be the ones to win it for Washington in the shootout. Caps’ fans are hopeful to repeat the same performance, just without the need for a comeback.
On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals lost 4-1 to the New York Rangers. Prior to practice, the Capitals placed Nic Dowd on IR and Carl Hagelin on LTIR, and recalled Beck Malenstyn, Mike Sgarbossa, Tyler Lewington, and Ilya Samsonov. Nicklas Backstrom did not play, as he was out with an upper-body injury, and Lars Eller filled in for him in the 2C position. Beck Malenstyn made his NHL debut, and Sgarbossa played in his first NHL game as a Capital. The first period was uneventful as far as goal scoring goes, as neither team scored, but the Capitals hit three posts, and Braden Holtby made several point-blank saves that kept the Rangers scoreless. The Rangers received the first power play of the night, as Tom Wilson went off for boarding with just over 30 seconds remaining in the period. Not having Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway on the penalty kill proved to be fatal for the Caps, as Artemi Panarin scored at the 1:14 mark of the second period. Both Tom Wilson and Radko Gudas took liberty at throwing some world-rocking hits in the middle frame, luckily without incident.
Just beyond the seven-minute mark, the Capitals received their first power play at Greg McKegg went off for tripping. Another shot off a pipe kept Washington off the board, and the Rangers successfully killed off their penalty. Fun fact, the Capitals actually lead the league in post/crossbar shots at 29, and the Dallas Stars rank 2nd, with 21. Again, the opposing team would start the next period on the power play, as Alex Ovechkin was called for tripping with eight seconds remaining in the second. It was imperative that Washington kill off this penalty without allowing another Rangers goal. Although the Capitals were successful, Dmitry Orlov would be called immediately for high-sticking, and the Rangers would receive another two minutes with the man-advantage. Artemi Panarin would score his second of the night, and 11th on the season as the Rangers power play would convert on their third opportunity. Moments later, Pavel Buchnevich would give the Rangers a 3-0 lead, as the Capitals’ defense broke down in front of the net, and Braden Holtby was faced with a nearly-impossible task of attempting to stop a wide-open shot. Brendan Smith would go to the box, and the Capitals would get an opportunity to avoid a shutout by the King, himself. Evgeny Kuznetsov would do just that, scoring on the Caps’ power play, and bringing Washington within two.
A timely save on a breakaway by Braden Holtby kept the Capitals in the game. However, despite their efforts, the Capitals would drop their second meeting with the Rangers. Brett Howden would score his 3rd of the season at the 13:33 mark, reinstating the Rangers’ 3-goal lead. The ‘Holtby’ taunts would begin shortly thereafter, and with New York leading 4-1, this match was all but finished. Tom Wilson and Brendan Lemieux, after lots of sparring throughout the game, would drop the gloves, and with three minutes left, both would be given five-minute majors for fighting. Lemieux received an extra two-minute penalty, and the Capitals would receive a power play, with an empty net. Unfortunately, Washington was unable to convert. Braden Holtby made 27 saves on 31 shots, giving him a .871 save percentage on the night. Braden Holtby is expected to start for the Capitals versus the Canucks.
The Vancouver Canucks last played on Thursday, where they defeated the Nashville Predators in a dominant 6-3 win. After losing 6-1 to the Dallas Stars, and dropping six of their last seven games, Vancouver desperately needed a sharp performance from their stars, and goaltender Jacob Markstrom. The Canucks relied entirely on their special teams for this win. Vancouver converted on five of six power play opportunities. Ryan Johansen scored first, giving Nashville an early lead, but at the 16:34 mark, Calder Trophy award winner Elias Pettersson tied the game with a power play goal on their first power play of the night. Exactly two minutes later, former Washington Capital Tyler Graovac scored his first of the season, also a power play goal. Calle Jarnkrok tied the game with a power play goal just short of the five-minute mark of the second period. However, JT Miller, again on the power play, gave Vancouver a 3-2 lead. At the 18:32 mark of the second, Brock Boeser scored his 10th of the season, another power play goal, and 30 second later, Bo Horvat scored on a Vancouver power play again. Matt Duchene kept the Predators within two goals eight minutes and 32 seconds into the final frame. However, Tanner Pearson scored an empty-net short-handed goal just short of 18 minutes, securing the win for Vancouver. Elias Pettersson leads Vancouver with 28 points, and Brock Boeser leads with 10 goals. Bo Horvat, however, leads with six power play goals, and although he did not score back when Washington completed that epic comeback, he did register two assists (WAS @ VAN). Tim Schaller hasn’t scored since October 28th versus the Florida Panthers. However, Schaller scored two goals against Washington, and therefore the Caps’ need to have all eyes on this one. Former Capital Jay Beagle ranks 5th overall in faceoff percentage (60.3%), which bolsters the entire teams 2nd place ranking (TheScore, Vancouver Canucks). Nashville doubled up on Vancouver in shots on goal with 48, but goaltender Jacob Markstrom allowed just 3 goals, ending his night with a .938 save percentage. Alternatively, the Canucks needed just 23 shots to win tonight’s match, and Pekka Rinne for the Predators made just 12 saves, and was relieved by backup Juuse Saros at the start of the third (TheScore, VAN @ NSH). Markstrom is expected to start for Vancouver.
The Vancouver Canucks will be without Brandon Sutter (DL, groin), Michael Ferland (DL, concussion), Antoine Roussel (IR-NR, knee), and Tyler Motte (DL, lower body). Jay Beagle did not participate in the Canucks’ optional skate, but is hoping to play versus the Caps. The Washington Capitals reassigned Tyler Lewington to Hershey, and recalled Christian Djoos, though he is not expected to play. The Capitals are still without Carl Hagelin and Nic Dowd due to injury, and Garnet Hathaway will serve his 2nd of a three-game suspension. Nicklas Backstrom has also been ruled out of the roster for tomorrow. Playing without Hagelin and Hathaway will, and has been, extremely costly for the Caps’ penalty kill. The Capitals need to reduce the number of penalties taken, as Vancouver won their last game entirely with their special teams.
Coverage of the game begins at 11:30am with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 12:00pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 12:30pm.
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TheScore. (2019). Washington Capitals @ Vancouver Canucks. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/21886.
TheScore. (2019). Vancouver Canucks @ Nashville Predators. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/22065.
TheScore. (2019). Vancouver Canucks News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/30.