Washington Capitals (27-9-5) vs Carolina Hurricanes (24-14-2)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Ilya Samsonov||10-2-1||2.28 / .918 / 0|
|Carolina Hurricanes||Petr Mrazek||16-8-2||2.67 / .903 / 2|
The Washington Capitals have themselves a little rematch with the Carolina Hurricanes to kick off 2020. The Capitals are just 5-5-0 in their last 10, and have dropped three of their last four. Will hindsight serve them well, and help to earn them their first win of the decade?
For a New Year’s Eve matinee, the Capitals lost 4-3, after allowing two early goals by Barry Trotz’s Islanders. Caps penalty killers were tested early on, as Dmitry Orlov was called for hooking at the 4:43 mark of the first. Washington kept the Isles off the board, but Casey Cizikas gave New York a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the period. A weird deflection that Holtby, even with Lasik, was unable to track. Brock Nelson would add to that lead with his 14th of the season, three minutes later. Nelson’s shot was taken from beyond the face off circles, and lightly screened. However, for a veteran goaltender, it should have been a routine save. Fourteen seconds later, Evgeny Kuznetsov cut the Islanders lead in half with his 14th of the year. A gnarly tip-in from Tom Wilson would tie the goal at the 14:17 mark of the first, giving Caps fans hope that their team would be able to make a successful comeback. That hope grew as Kuznetsov scored his 2nd of the game, 44 seconds into the second period. Unfortunately, Cizikas would also score his second of the game just short of the five-minute mark of the middle frame, once again tying the game, 3-3. Similar to Nelson’s goal, Cizikas’s second came from beyond the faceoff circles. Tom Kuhnhackl scored the ultimate game-winner at the 12:34 mark, and despite a power play shortly thereafter, and a second with just 60 seconds left in the game, Washington would ultimately concede, 4-3. For just the second time this season, the Capitals lost two consecutive games in regulation, thus failing to secure even one point. Poor puck handling, too many turnovers, and failed clearing attempts ultimately led to the New Year’s Eve loss. Although Washingtons’ penalty kill continues to shine, having killed off both Islanders power plays, veteran goaltender Braden Holtby has allowed far too many loose and easy goals lately. 17 in his last three starts, to be exact (NHL). As predicted, Ilya Samsonov will get the start for the Capitals.
The Carolina Hurricanes, just two games removed from their last meeting with Washington, defeated the Montreal Canadiens, also on New Year’s Eve. The Canes won eight of 13 games in the month of December, and currently sit 4th in the Metro division. Less than two minutes into the match, Sebastian Aho tallied his 23rd goal of the season on the Canes power play (Lehkonen, tripping). Not even two minutes later, Max Domi would tie the game, 1-1. Carolina was called for ‘too many men’ short of the 18-minute mark, but Montreals’ power play would not convert. Seven and a half minutes into the second period, Erik Haula scored the eventual game-winner, with his 11th of the season. Haula boasts six points in his last four games, including an assist versus the Capitals just six days ago (HockeyReference). Jordan Martinook went off for slashing midway through the second period, and the Habs would receive another power play late in the third (Dzingel, high-sticking). Carolina’s 11th ranked penalty kill has allowed just 12 power play goals in 61 chances on home ice (ESPN). The Hurricanes power play however, has 15 goals on home ice, and Washington has allowed as many power play goals against, on the road. Teuvo Teravainen is playing at a-point-per-game with 40 points in as many games, and has tallied points in nine of his last 11 games. Montreal elected to pull goaltender Charlie Lindgren, for the extra attacker, but Ryan Dzingel would pot an empty-netter, sealing a 3-1 win for the Hurricanes. Petr Mrazek is expected to start against Washington.
Christian Djoos is still listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury. His status is to be determined.
Coverage of the game begins at 6:30pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 7:00pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:30pm.
ESPN. (2020). 2019-20 NHL Hockey Stats and League Leaders. Retrieved from http://proxy.espn.com/nhl/statistics/team?stat=special-teams&sort=powerPlayGoalsAgainst&split=33.
HockeyReference. (2020). Erik Haula Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/h/haulaer01.html.
NHL.com. (2020). Braden Holtby Stats and News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/braden-holtby-8474651.
TheScore. (2020). Carolina Hurricanes News and Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/12.