How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the USA: NBCSN
In the Capitals region: NBCS Washington
Elsewhere: NHL.tv / Rogers NHL Live
The Bell Centre was rocking on Tuesday night, matching the intensity of the players on the ice as both parties worked together in the biggest win of the season.
There was a brief quiet spell when the Tampa Bay Lightning opened up a 1-0 lead early, but the game was too important for that seback to dictate the night’s proceedings. At the end of a game largely controlled by the Canadiens, they earned their first victory of the season over the Lightning, and kept their chances of facing the Eastern Conference-leading team in the post-season’s first round alive.
The other potential opponent for a team earning a wild-card spot will be the Metropolitan Division’s top club, and that’s likely going to be the Washington Capitals — the team the Canadiens happen to play tonight.
Montreal won’t have its own crowd for the game tonight. Instead, the Habs will go into Capital One Arena with the goal of preventing the home fans from having a division-clinching win to cheer about.
Tale of the Tape
|54.1% (4th)||Corsi-for pct.||49.2% (18th)|
|3.00 (14th)||Goals per game||3.40 (5th)|
|2.86 (13th)||Goals against per game||3.05 (19th)|
|12.5% (31st)||PP%||21.0% (10th)|
|80.8% (14th)||PK%||79.1% (22nd)|
It has been an entertaining season series so far, with a total of 19 goals scored in the two previous games. The first was a great comeback by the Canadiens as they entered the third period down a goal. They found the tying marker with three minutes remaining, and then Max Domi put Montreal on top with just 22 seconds to play. Joel Armia put the game out of reach two seconds after the go-ahead goal.
The second game also saw some late heroics, this time at Montreal’s end of the ice. With the situation reversed from the first contest, Alex Ovechkin was looking to put the game in the bag before regulation came to a close, but Carey Price made an incredible save with three seconds on the clock that serves as one of the top highlights of the 2018-19 NHL season.
The Capitals continued their surge to win the game in overtime, but the Habs took an all-important point from the contest, and an even more important boost in confidence for Price after struggling at that period of the year.
There isn’t much to be worried about with Price’s game (other than the number of them he’s been forced to play) at the moment, with a save percentage restored to his career mark. He’s one of the biggest reasons why the Canadiens even have something to play for at this time of the year.
Preventing goals against has been a bit of a concern for the Capitals this year, as they rank in the lower half of the league in goals against and penlty-killing efficiency. Braden Holtby’s season save percentage is just .910; on pace to be the second-lowest mark of his career after a .907 stat in 2017-18.
The Capitals’ netminder was able to turn things around in time for the playoffs a season ago, helping his team secure the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. This year he has flipped the switch early, posting a mark of .923 or better in four consecutive games from March 22 to 28 before that streak was snapped by the Florida Panthers.
Scoring nearly three-and-a-half goals per game, the Capitals can afford an off-performance in net — as their 102 points can attest. Holtby can count on Alex Ovechkin providing a goal in support more often than not, as the sniper has once again surpassed 50 goals in an NHL campaign.
Washington’s captain scored four of those goals in the two games versus Montreal. The Canadiens did a great job of preventing the league’s top offence from getting many dangerous looks on Tuesday, and will need a similar defensive effort versus Ovechkin and the Capitals tonight.