Game Thread: Backstrom Back as Caps Host Habs

February 24, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) makes a save on Montreal Canadiens left wing Rene Bourque (27) in front of Capitals defenseman Mike Green (52) in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
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The Washington Capitals are getting good news at just the right time. Clinging on to the eight seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Caps announced this morning that Nicklas Backstrom will be back in the lineup tonight as they face the Montreal Canadiens.

Backstrom has not seen action since a game against the Calgary Flames on January 3, when he took an elbow to the head from current Habs forward Rene Bourque. From this morning's skate, the Capitals center will be on the top line with Alexander Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson.

The big benefit should be Washington's power play, which has struggled of late, going at a 14.7 percent rate in the 40 games Backstrom has missed. Thirty-five of Backstrom's 100 career NHL goals have come with the man advantage. The have won just 18 games since their number one center went down.

Backstrom has 14 points in 15 career games against the Canadiens, but, as you will see below, the Capitals haven't needed his services against the Habs this season.

Interesting fact from NHL.com: Since being ousted in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Capitals are 6-0-1 against Montreal with four shutouts from four different goalies.

The Canadiens would hopefully like to light the lamp a bit more in their final game with Washington. They've managed just a single goal, in the first three meetings this season, despite outshooting their opponent 92-63.

They Habs were defeated by the conference-leading New York Rangers 4-1 on Friday night. They were held to just 20 shots on goal and despite some decent Corsi/Fenwick numbers, only had nine scoring chances.

Peter Budaj gets the call in goal for Montreal. MIchal Neuvirth goes for the Caps.

Pre-Game reads:

Chris Boucher with an interesting historical break down the draft.

Habs fans in FLA

It wasn't all PG's fault

Happy Birthday to Stan Fischler, who turns 80 today.

On this day in 1979: Guy Lafleur hit the 50 goal mark for the 5th straight season, in a 5-3 win over the Penguins at the Forum.. The win was the Habs 50th of the season, making then just the 2nd NHL team in history to record four straight 50+ win seasons.

On this day in 1956: The Canadiens rally from a 4-2 deficit, scoring four goals, in a 5:29 span,during the the third period, to win Game One of the 1956 Stanley Cup Final 6-4.


1927: Howie Morenz scores the first all-NHL Stanley Cup Playoff overtime goal, as the Canadiens defeated the Montreal Maroons 1-0. George Hainsworth picked up the shutout.

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Above image via www.habsolumentfan.com


MONTREAL CANADIENS PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole

Rene Bourque - Tomas Plekanec - Louis Leblanc

Mike Blunden - Lars Eller - Aaron Palushaj

Blake Geoffrion - Petteri Nokelainen - Brad Staubitz

Defensemen

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Chris Campoli - Frederic St-Denis

Goalies

Carey Price - Peter Budaj

Habscaps_medium

WASHINGTON CAPITALS PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Marcus Johansson

Jason ChimeraMathieu PerreaultAlexander Semin

Keith AucoinBrooks LaichTroy Brouwer

Matt HendricksJay BeagleMike Knuble

Defencemen

Karl AlznerDennis Wideman

Roman HamrlikMike Green

Dmitry OrlovJohn Carlson

Goalies

Michal Neuvirth

Braden Holtby

Canadiens vs Capitals coverage

Canadiens vs Capitals preview

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