These Washington Capitals that we have seen over the last six games are the ones we’ve gotten used to. They have no problem scoring, know how to play a solid all-around hockey game and are oozing that winning culture that won them the President’s Trophy just a season ago.
After escaping PNC Arena with two points after a 4-3 shootout victory over Carolina Friday, Washington seeks to finish its back-to-back series with a win over Montreal Saturday and extend their winning streak to seven games.
Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center – 7 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CSNMA, NHLN, TVAS
2015-16 Season Series:
Dec. 3- Capitals 3 Canadiens 2
Dec. 26- Capitals 3 Canadiens 1
Feb. 24- Canadiens 4 Capitals 3
Washington Capitals – 19-7-3, 41 Points
Home Record: 11-4-0
Hot Players: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Justin Williams, Matt Niskanen
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Zach Sanford-Lars Eller-Jakub Vrana
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Nate Schmidt
Montreal Canadiens- 19-7-4, 42 Points
Away Record: 5-5-2
Hot Players: Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec
Key Injuries: David Desharnais, Alex Galchenyuk, Charles Hudon
Max Pacioretty-Tomas Plekanec-Alexander Radulov
Artturi Lehkonen-Phillip Danault-Andrew Shaw
Paul Byron-Torrey Mitchell-Brendan Gallagher
Daniel Carr-Brian Flynn-Michael McCarron
Alexei Emelin-Shea Weber
Andrei Markov-Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu-Zach Redmond
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Evgeny Kuznetsov is riding a six-game point streak, and Justin Williams has a goal in three straight games. With Alex Ovechkin also starting to score, many of Washington’s top six forwards appear to be getting their groove back.
Six-game point streak for Kuznetsov (eight assists)
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) December 17, 2016
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Washington’s power-play has scored a goal in its last four games, and is showing no signs of slowing down. If they want to beat Montreal, making the most of their chances on the man advantage will be huge, especially when facing off against Shea Weber and the Canadiens’ penalty kill, which has over 80 percent success on the PK.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3) [/miptheme_dropcap]The Capitals have recalled Zach Sanford from Hershey, where he got the opportunity to work on upgrading his offensive game. He’ll be back in the lineup, replacing Brett Conolly on the third line wing. Andre Burakovsky will continue to sit as a healthy scratch due to his stop in production.
Zach Sanford said his time in Hershey was "huge" for him. Said he and Trotz stayed in touch.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) December 17, 2016
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Braden Holtby will get the start between the pipes Saturday after Grubauer played Carolina Friday. He is 8-0-1 his career against Montreal and boasts outstanding numbers, including a .944 save percentage and 1.60 GAA against the Habs.
This will be one of the Capitals toughest games to date. The Canadiens are the best team in the Eastern Conference and with Carey Price, Alex Radulov and Shea Weber, they have a full arsenal of weapons in each part of their lineup.
Not to mention, both teams are playing each other as part of back-to-back matchups, so expect each team to try to balance fatigue as well as effort to defeat each other.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.