Following a tough 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, the Capitals will conclude their regular season road schedule with a stop in Montreal to play the Habs, whom they have had great success against north of the border.
The Capitals are 14-3-2 vs. Montreal in their last 19 contests, and have won six of their last seven matchups against the Canadians. Washington is 6-0-1 in its last seven games in Montreal and has not lost in regulation on the road in Montreal since Jan. 10, 2009 (5-4). Washington has not been shut out by Montreal since Jan. 29, 2008 (4-0), and has blanked Montreal five times during that span.
The Capitals have recorded three shutouts against Montreal in their last seven games, using three different goaltenders in that span (Tomas Vokoun, Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby). Washington has allowed a combined 14 goals in its last 10 contests against the Canadiens.
THE GREAT 8:
The once again Great 8, Alexander Ovechkin is not only fire in his career but like his team has shared a great deal of success playing the Habs. Ovechkin has registered 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 29 career games against the Canadiens and has tallied at least one point in 19 of those 29 contests.
Ovechkin enters tonight’s contest as hot as any player in the NHL. With 19 goals and nine assists in his last 19 games played, he is once again in the talk for MVP consideration. His 28 goals lead the NHL and is one better than Steve Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and two better than John Tavares of the Islanders. Ovechkin also leads the league in shots (202), power-play goals (15) and ranks tied for fourth in points (48).
HOT HAB BACKSTOPPING:
Braden Holtby has posted a 2-0-0 record with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage in two games against the Canadiens while Michal Neuvirth owns a 5-2-0 record with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in eight career games vs. Montreal.
RIBEIRO IN A BETTER FRAME OF MIND:
Mike Ribeiro, who was the talk of many trade rumors and seemed to cool down quite a bit just before and immediately following the April 3 NHL trade deadline, scored his 13th goal of the season on Thursday at Ottawa to extend his point streak to four games (1g-5a).
Ribeiro ranks tied for second on Washington tied for 11th in the league in points (44). He needs six points in his final four games to reach the 50-point plateau for the ninth consecutive season. Only Martin St. Louis has accomplished the feat.
NICKY BACK TONIGHT
According to Mike Vogel of Washington Capitals.com, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, who was hit on the arm with a Mike Green slap shot late in Thursday’s game and did not return, did participate in Friday’s practice at Bell Centre. He seemed none the worse for wear and is expected to be in the lineup for Saturday’s tilt against the Habs.
Before failing to register a point in two previous games, Backstrom was on a tear.
No.19 recorded 28-points in his last 21 games, a streak dating back to March 5. He had seven multiple point games including two games with three helpers and one where he recorded four assists vs. the Hurricanes on April 2.
Losing Backstrom would be a devastating blow to a surging franchise.
THE CAPS PLAYOFF PICTURE:
Entering play tonight, the Capitals hold a two point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first in the Southeast division. A fall from first place could drop the Caps out of the all-important top 8 and a playoff spot.
Washington will know where they stand entering tonight’s game. Winnipeg’s contest with the Islanders will be completed from earlier today. Many are pointing to Wednesday’s showdown at Verizon Center between the Jets and Caps as the make or break game for the division.
Washington is 14-4-1 in their last 19 contests and since Feb. 8 have posted a 21-10-1 record. Washington has scored 3.00 goals per game, the sixth-highest in the NHL, while the Capitals power play ranks first in the league (25.3%). Thursday’s regulation loss to Ottawa was just the second regulation setback for Washington in the last 12 games (March 26).
SERIES NOTES vs HABS:
* Washington trails, 61-68-17-3 entering the 150th meeting (26-39-8-2 on the road).
* This is the third of three meetings between these two clubs this season.
* Montreal earned a 4-1 win in Washington on Jan. 24 and the Capitals defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in Montreal on April 9.
* Last year, the Capitals went 4-0-0.
Please Join Alan Zlotorzynski for the pre-game edition of Capitals Corner starting at 5:00 p.m on the Fanspeak Radio Network. Alan will breakdown and preview the Washington Capitals important battle with the Montreal Canadiens.
Following a tough 3-1 loss to the Senators in Ottawa, the Caps must get 2-points tonight to keep their slim division lead over the Winnipeg Jets. Alan will have the top 5 media notes for each team and the top 5 stats that matter as the Caps look for two important points at the Bell Centre. Alan will also have the Caps week in review and the Fanspeak 3 Stars of the Week. You will hear every Caps goal from John Walton, as it was broadcast on the Caps play-by-play network this past week.
With the playoffs scheduled to start next week, Alan will also break down the current playoff picture in the NHL. He will get you up to date on the likeliest scenarios for the Capitals and which teams Washington is likely to face should they make the tournament.
Speaking of the playoffs, Alan will re-live some of the greatest moments in Capitals playoff history.
This week was the anniversary of one of the greatest goals in Franchise history and you will hear the actual call of Dale Hunter’s Game 7 overtime goal vs. the Flyers in 1988. But was it the greatest goal in Caps history. Alan will have the Top 5 Greatest playoff goals in Caps history and you can join in the show by logging into the Fanspeak Radio Chat Room to give your opinions.
You will also hear interviews from Karl Alzner and head coach Adam Oates, as well as Joe B with an update on Nicklas Backstrom. Craig Laughlin also chimes in with his thoughts on the Caps loss in Ottawa.
Alan will finish with a look at the Caps top minor league affiliates and of course, The Fanspeak NHL News and Notes as well as the FANPEAK TOP 10 teams in the league.