Washington Capitals (37-17-5) vs Montreal Canadiens (27-27-8)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||21-13-4||3.11 / .897 / 0|
|Montreal Canadiens||Carey Price||24-22-5||2.76 / .910 / 3|
After a less-than-ideal three-game road trip, the Washington Capitals are back at Capital One Arena to take on the Montreal Canadiens. Currently, Montreal is sitting five placings out of a wildcard spot, and a once-comfortable lead in the Metropolitan division has effectively disappeared for the Capitals. Washington defeated Montreal 4-2 back on January 27th.
The Washington Capitals lost again on Monday night, 3-2 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Defensive breakdowns and missed cues by the forwards have doomed the Capitals into dropping six of their last 10, and allowing the first goal in six straight outings. Since the Bruins’ beat-down back on 12/23, Washington is 11-11-0. With the Penguins winning on Tuesday, the Capitals have lost the top spot in the Metro, a lead they held for 122 days. The Capitals gave up two goals in the first period, and a third in the second to give Vegas a comfy 3-0 lead. Nick Holden scored his 5th of the season just three minutes and 43 seconds into the first period. At the 17:17 mark of the first, Riley Smith potted his 23rd after poor defensive coverage by none other than Nick Jensen led to a prime scoring opportunity. Max Pacioretty, who has seven points in his last five games, scored his 27th at the 14:06 mark of the second. Just short of the nine-minute mark of the third period, TJ Oshie spoiled Marc-Andre Fleury’s shutout hopes with his 23rd of the season. Oshie has points in 9 of his last 11 games, including 7 goals. Washington received three power play opportunities, and TJ Oshie was able to convert on the John Merrill penalty at the 10:40 mark of the third period. Washington killed off the two Vegas power plays, continuing to bolster their 4th best penalty kill in the league. Jakub Vrana tallied two assists on the Oshie goals, marking his 11th multi-point game of the season, and 24th of his career. Vrana, with the two points, set a new career-high in points (49). The Capitals would eventually fall to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Braden Holtby would end his night with 26 saves on 29 shots. Braden Holtby will get the start for the Capitals versus the Canadiens.
The Montreal Canadiens last played on Tuesday night, where they lost, 4-3, to the Detroit Red Wings. The season-series sweep by the NHL-worst Red Wings handed Montreal their 5th straight loss. The Habs have lost five of nine games in the month of February thus far, but impressively, three wins have come either in overtime or the shootout. Nate Thompson scored early in the first period to give the Habs a 1-0 lead, and just about 10 minutes later, Jeff Petry added to that lead. Petry’s power play goal gave Montreal a 2-0 lead heading into the second period. At the 1:24 mark of the second, Robby Fabri scored his 13th of the season, cutting into Montreals’s lead. The Canadiens ended their night 2-for-3 on the power play, with Nick Suzuki converting on the Gustav Lindstrom penalty at the 12:40 mark of the middle frame. Detroit would come back to score three unanswered goals in the third, including two goals from Andrea Athanasiou and one from former Capital Mike Green. The Habs 19th ranked penalty kill successful kept the Red Wings’ power play stagnant, Tomas Tatar is having a heck of a year, and has 21 goals in 61 games, as well as 32 assists, which lands him within five points of passing his career-high of 58 (2018-19) (HockeyReference). Eight goals have come on the power play, though he has just one PPG in his last 22 games, dating back to December 29th. Carey Price ended his night with four goals allowed on 25 shots, and a .840 save percentage. Price is expected to start for Montreal versus the Capitals.
The Montreal Canadiens are still without Brendan Gallagher (DTD, head), as well as Victor Mete (DTD, lower body). For the Capitals, Evgeny Kuznetsov fully participated in the morning skate, and is expected to dress. On Tuesday, the Washington Capitals acquired Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2020 2nd Round draft pick, and a conditional 2021 3rd round pick.
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.
HockeyReference. (2020). Tomas Tatar Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/t/tatarto01.html.
TheScore. (2020). Montreal Canadiens News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/3.
TheScore. (2020). Washington Capitals News and Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.