Washington Capitals (37-15-5) vs Arizona Coyotes (28-24-8)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||21-11-4||3.14 / .896 / 0|
|Arizona Coyotes||Antti Raanta||11-12-3||2.82 / .915 / 2|
Next up, the Washington Capitals are in Arizona to take on the Coyotes in another late Western Conference matchup. The Caps haven’t had the best of luck against the Coyotes in recent times and lost to the Desert Dogs 4-3 in the shootout, on November 11th, 2019. TJ Oshie scored late in the third period to tie it, and we thought he scored in the shootout, but his goal was eventually washed out. Hopefully, this time the Capitals can snag a win at Gila River Arena.
On Thursday night, the Washington Capitals defeated the Colorado Avalanche to avoid losing a third straight game in regulation for the first time this season. A late third period comeback, re-discovering a lost identity, and three unanswered goals by the Caps resulted in a 3-2 win. Braden Holtby got the start, and once again, was hung out to dry early on by the team in front of him. Just two minutes and 54 seconds into the first period, former Capital Andre Burakovsky gave the Avs an early 1-0 lead. Burakovsky’s 18th of the season marked a career-high for the winger. With just under four minutes left in the first, Mikko Rantanen with his 19th of the season made it 2-0 on the only power play of the period (Oshie, high sticking). The Capitals would receive back-to-back power plays, and Nicklas Backstrom managed to get Washington on the board with Tyson Jost in the penalty box. Washington would not, however, score on the man-advantage. Moments later, the Avalanche would head back to the power play as Nic Dowd was called for tripping. Heading into tonight’s game, Colorado’s power play in their last handful of games was better than 27% efficiency. Halfway through the penalty kill, Lars Eller was called for delay of game, therefore giving the Avs a modified 5-on-3 two-man advantage. In the 10 occurrences that Washington has been down by two, they have given up three goals. The Capitals penalty kill successfully kept Colorado off the board, and as play returned to even strength, Tom Wilson drew a penalty to give Washington another man-advantage (Donskoi, slashing). Braden Holtby kept the Caps in this one, and Washington would start the third period on the tail-end of the Donskoi penalty. The Capitals received two more power plays, and despite a slow start, Washington deserved to win this one, as they outplayed the Avalanche for much of the second half. Washington was finally rewarded for hard work as Tom Wilson tied the game 2-2. The last 10 minutes had the intensity of a playoff game, which many anticipate will occur between these two teams. For the first time in 16 games, Washington put up two power-play goals, and they are now four for their last 12. TJ Oshie with his 22nd of the season, scored the go-ahead goal with just over two minutes remaining, marking three unanswered goals by the Caps. Braden Holtby tallied his 21st win of the season and put up his best save percentage since December 21st (.941). Holtby will start for the Capitals.
The Arizona Coyotes lost to the Ottawa Senators by a score of 3-2, also on Thursday night. Arizona has just two wins in their last 10 games and is sitting in 5th in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes currently hold the 2nd wild card position in the West. Vladislav Namestnikov at the 2:50 mark and Brady Tkachuk just about four minutes later gave the Senators an early 2-0 lead through the first 20 minutes. The Senators received two power-play opportunities in the second, but it was the Coyotes that would convert on their man-advantage as Oliver Ekman-Larsson pulled his team back in it. Arizona would eventually end the night 1-for-2 on the power play, and their 7th ranked penalty kill kept the Senators from converting on any one of their three power-play opportunities. Nick Paul would score the eventual game-winner for Ottawa at the 6:50 mark of the third period. Jordan Oesterle brought the Coyotes within one with his 2nd of the season, but despite outshooting the Sens 35 to 31, it was Ottawa that emerged victorious. Although Arizona allowed the 5th fewest goals against in the league (2.68), they are tied for 23rd among 31 teams for goals for (2.71). (TheScore). Phil Kessel, who was traded to the Coyotes from the Penguins in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk posts an abysmal -23 rating through 59 games, though he boasts 12 goals and 21 assists with Arizona. Antti Raanta ended his night with a .903 save percentage after stopping 28 of 31 shots. Raanta is expected to start for the Coyotes.
The Arizona Coyotes are without goaltender Darcy Kuemper (DL, lower body), Marian Hossa (IR-NR, illness), Jason Demers (DL, oblique), and Barrett Hayton (out, shoulder). Evgeny Kuznetsov will not dress for a second consecutive game, despite taking the ice before practice this morning.
Coverage of the game begins at 9:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 9:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 10:00pm.
NHL.com (2020). Phil Kessel Stats and News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/phil-kessel-8473548.
TheScore. (2019). Arizona Coyotes News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/24.