Washington Capitals (37-16-5) vs Vegas Golden Knights (30-22-8)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||21-12-4||3.11 / .897 / 0|
|Vegas Golden Knights||Marc-Andre Fleury||22-14-5||2.80 / .905 / 4|
The Washington Capitals are off to Sin City to take on the Vegas Golden Knights for the 2nd and final time this season. The Capitals defeated the Golden Knights, not just in five games to win the Stanley Cup in 2018, but more recently by a score of 5-2 back on November 9th, 2019.
The Washington Capitals were defeated by the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night, despite some outstanding goal-tending from Braden Holtby. Under no circumstances should this fourth loss in six games be blamed on the veteran goaltender, but rather on abysmal passing and turnovers. The first period was scoreless, with both the Caps and the Coyotes receiving one power play, but failing to convert. The Capitals received an early 2nd period power play, but again, were unable to tally a goal. Officials tried their hardest to keep this game fair, so for each penalty the Caps were called for, the Yotes would then be called. Tom Wilson was called for roughing, so Arizona was given the man-advantage, but didn’t convert. Christian Dvorak gave Arizona a 1-0 lead just beyond the seven-minute mark of the second, his 18th of the season. 10 minutes later, Carl Hagelin tied the game 1-1, with his 5th goal of the season. Travis Boyd, who had been inserted into the lineup the last two outings, recorded the primary assist on the Hagelin goal. Washington ended up 0-for-3 on the power play, and the Yotes, 1-for-3. At the 5:25 mark of the third period, Phil Kessel scored the eventual game-winning goal on the Coyotes power play, with Michal Kempny in the penalty box. Alex Ovechkin is still two away from 700, and has not scored in four straight games, which, believe it or not, is his longest goal-less streak of the season. Ovechkin led the Caps with eight shots on goal in 23:52 TOI versus Arizona. It seems that no team, no goaltender, wants to surrender even a single goal to the 8th All Time Goal Scorer, and greatest goal scorer of all time, who is just two goals short of 700. Lawson Crouse, with Washingtons’ net vacant, sealed the win for Arizona with an empty-net goal, giving the Coyotes a 3-1 lead. Washington peppered Yotes goaltender Antti Raanta with 37 shots but was only able to score once against the 30-year old. Braden Holtby stopped 27 of 29 shots and ended his night with a .931 save percentage. Holtby will start for the Capitals against the Golden Knights.
The Vegas Golden Knights shutout the New York Islanders, 1-0, also on Saturday night. Vegas, like Washington, has five wins and five losses over their last 10 games, but unlike Washington, the Golden Knights have snagged points in 2 of those 5 losses. The shutout marked Marc-Andre Fleury’s 60th of his NHL career, and 4th of the season. Riley Smith scored the lone goal of the evening with just five seconds remaining in the 2nd period. The goal marked his 22nd of the season, and first in six games. Vegas received three opportunities with the man-advantage, but their 9th ranked power play was unable to convert. Conversely, the Golden Knights 22nd ranked penalty kill did keep the Islanders off the board. New York ended up 0-for-2 on the power play. The Golden Knights haven’t been held to just one goal since November 21st versus the Sharks, though they have been shut-out themselves three times this season, and twice in 2020. This will be the first time Washington plays the Golden Knights since the newest expansion team fired their head coach Gerard Gallant, and acquired former Capital Chandler Stephenson. In 24 games with Washington in 2019, Stephenson had three goals and one assist for four points. In 30 games with Vegas, he has eight goals, including two short-handed, and 10 assists for 18 points with the team. Three goals have been game-winners, and one, a power-play marker. Mark Stone, who was perhaps the Golden Knights’ best acquisition to date, leads the team with 37 assists and 57 points, but Max Pacioretty tops out with 26 goals in 60 games. Four Vegas players have five or more power play goals, and three have 6 (Stone, Pacioretty, and Marchessault). The Golden Knights severely outshout the Islanders 43 to 19, therefore one could make the argument than Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov had a much more difficult night than Fleury. As previously mentioned, Fleury stopped all 19 shots faced, and is expected to start for Vegas.
The Vegas Golden Knights are once again without Alex Tuch (OUT, lower body). Evgeny Kuznetsov traveled with the team on this road-trip, but the center-man has yet to dress. Kuznetsov tool rushes with the third line at morning skate, but will miss a straight 3rd game. Brendan Leipsic was the extra during morning skate, but he will still play, with Travis Boyd filling in at the 3C position.
Coverage of the game begins at 5:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 5:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 6:00pm.
HockeyReference. (2020). Chandler Stephenson Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/s/stephch02.html.
TheScore. (2019). Vegas Golden Knights News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/102.
TheScore. (2019). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.