Winners of three consecutive games, the Montreal Canadiens will tonight play host to one of hockey’s hottest teams as the Washington Capitals visit the Bell Centre - hoping to keep a streak of their own alive.
A three-game win streak came at the perfect time for the Habs, entrenched in what was until-then a troubling road trip. With injuries depleting the line-up, the team has been able to showcase its depth in recent weeks and now, finally, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
It is as of now unknown whether Alex Galchenyuk or Andrei Markov could return to action tonight, but we do know that they’re close. Andrew Shaw and Paul Byron have skated recently as well - all good news for the Habs regardless of whether anyone comes off the sidelines this evening.
Regardless, the Canadiens will need to be at the top of their game tonight as they face stiff opposition. The Caps have won five straight dating back to December 31st, and though they sit in a wildcard position in the East, their record is nearly identical to that of the Habs.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In Canada: SNE (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: NHLN-US, CSN-DC
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|53.57||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||53.54|
|1.49||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.54|
It was not particularly long ago that these two teams last met, with the Canadiens coming up victorious in a 2-1 contest back on December 17. For that to happen again, the Habs will need to slow some of the Caps’ hot hands, including Evgeny Kuznetsov, who boasts six points in his past three games.
The Capitals’ offence has come to life recently, though just one goal was scored in their game against the Senators on Saturday night. The team tallied eleven goals combined in their previous two games against Toronto and Columbus, giving them some separation in the wild card race.
A beneficiary - or perhaps a catalyst - of the Capitals’ offensive awakening has been Justin Williams. The veteran scorer had a decidedly rough start to the season but has recorded points in five of Washington’s past seven games, including a three-point outing against the Leafs.
Braden Holtby continues to impress, recording a shutout in each of his last two starts to give him a total of five on the year. With a .931 SV%, only Devan Dubnyk and Jimmy Howard have been better this year - though Carey Price sits just a tick below a .930.
As a result, though Montreal and Washington both feature in the league’s top ten when it comes to even strength goal-scoring, it would come as no surprise should tonight’s game turn out to be a low-scoring affair.
The Capitals are pretty clearly on a high right now, riding an impressive winning streak that included ending the Blue Jackets near-historic run. Confidence is high in Washington, but the Habs have proven to be up to this challenge before. Two teams having remarkably similar years, tonight’s contest promises to be a good one.