Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Capitals
CANADIENS (27-19-5) vs. CAPITALS (22-21-8)
The Canadiens will play their second game in as many nights for the 10th time this season on Saturday when they take on the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre.
Michel Therrien’s troops lost their third straight game on Friday night in the Motor City, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Detroit Red Wings. Brendan Gallagher scored the lone goal for Montreal. Carey Price, meanwhile, turned aside 22 of the 26 shots fired in his direction. Henrik Zetterberg, Riley Sheahan, Niklas Kronwall and Gustav Nyquist lit the lamp for Detroit. Jonas Gustavsson upped his record 13-3-2 on the season with a 30-save performance that paced Mike Babcock’s squad to their second straight victory and their third win in their last four games at Joe Louis Arena.
For their part, the Capitals have been going through a difficult stretch themselves in recent weeks. Adam Oates’ club, which is currently in the midst of a five-game road trip, has lost five straight games and is now 2-6-2 in their last 10 outings.
On Friday night, goals from Stephen Gionta and Adam Henrique were all the New Jersey Devils needed to best the Capitals 2-1 at the Prudential Center in Newark. Cory Schneider earned his ninth victory of the season for New Jersey with 30 saves, while Jaromir Jagr picked up two assists in the win. Jason Chimera scored the lone goal for Washington. Michal Neuvirth took the loss in goal for the Caps.
Complicating matters further for the Capitals is that they may be forced to play a third straight game without captain Alex Ovechkin, who missed the last two games with an undisclosed lower-body injury that he apparently suffered on Jan. 19 against the New York Rangers. While they may be deprived of the services of the NHL’s leading goal-scorer on Saturday night, Washington can still count on the contributions of offensive standouts Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. Caps forward Mikhail Grabovski sustained a lower-body injury on Friday night in New Jersey and did not take to the ice for the third period.
Saturday night’s tilt will make the third and final regular season meeting between the Capitals and the Canadiens during the 2013-14 campaign. The teams have split the season-series thus far this year with both games taking place in the District of Columbia. The Habs earned a 3-2 win in the first meeting on Nov. 22, while the Capitals posted a 3-2 shootout victory on Nov. 29.