The Montreal Canadiens are sitting near the bottom of the league standings as they prepare to play the final few games of the regular season. Over the last few weeks, the play of Antti Niemi and a rediscovered scoring touch for Artturi Lehkonen have been the only things keeping the team from dropping right to the bottom.
At the opposite end of the table sit the Washington Capitals, who have fended off the challenge from the Pittsburgh Penguins to sit atop the Metropolitan Division with a bit of breathing room.
Despite the extreme difference in their positioning, the Habs and Capitals have each claimed one victory so far this year. Tonight will offer the final meeting between the teams, giving the Habs a chance to claim a second season series in as many nights.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: Sportsnet (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the USA: NHL Network
In the Capitals region: NBCSWA
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
Montreal won the previous meeting by a 3-2 score. The game came after yet another disastrous holiday road trip that forced them further away from a playoff position. A three-point night from Max Pacioretty, including the game-winning goal, was the difference.
The first matchup of the year was heavily in the Capitals’ favour — at least on the scoreboard. Despite being outshot 39-23, Washington received a four-goal performance from Alex Ovechkin to claim a 6-1 win.
Carey Price will be eager to get redemption for that early-season loss. His was pulled from the game after just a single period in which he allowed four goals, three of them coming off Ovechkin’s stick.
That game on October 7 was just the Capitals’ second of the year, but the fourth goal from Ovechkin was his seventh of the season, setting up yet another run at a Rocket Richard Trophy. He has since added 37 more to hold the top position in the goal-scoring race, though he has his idol, Patrik Laine, hot on his heels. The final eight games for the Capitals and Winnipeg Jets will offer the chance for either a first win from the Finnish teenage phenom or a seventh for the man who will go down as one of the top scorers the NHL has ever seen.