The Washington Capitals are seeking 12 straight home wins Saturday, when they square off against the Anaheim Ducks in their last home game before their bye week.
Washington’s recent hot streak has given them six straight victories following the All-Star break, as well as a comfortable lead over the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. They will face Anaheim, a team that has lost three of its last four games and is looking to stay in the race for the Pacific Division lead.
With a key victory on the line for both teams, this is sure to be a competitive, aggressive match-up, especially considering the Capitals want to enter the bye week with a lengthy winning streak under their belts.
Anaheim Ducks at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center- 7:30 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CSNMA, FSW
2015-16 Season Series:
March 7- Capitals 2 Ducks 1 (SO)
April 10- Ducks 2 Capitals 0
Washington Capitals – 38-11-6, 82 Points
Home Record: 23-5-1
Hot Players: Nicklas Backstrom, Brett Connolly, Evgeny Kuznetsov
Key Injuries: Andre Burakovsky
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-Zachary Sanford
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Nate Schmidt
Anaheim Ducks- 29-17-10, 68 Points
Away Record: 12-11-7
Hot Players: Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette
Key Injuries: Simon Despres, Clayton Stoner, Sami Vatanen
Antoine Vermette-Ryan Getzlaf-Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie-Rickard Rakell-Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano-Ryan Kesler-Logan Shaw
Joseph Cramorossa-Nate Thompson-Jared Boll
Cam Fowler-Brandon Montour
Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson
Shea Theodore-Kevin Bieksa
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Andre Burakovsky could be out at least a month following an injury sustained in Washington’s 6-3 win over the Red Wings. The Swedish winger was hit in the hand with a slapshot, and never returned to the game. Zachary Sanford, one of Washington’s top forward prospects, will step in and take Burakovsky’s place on the surging third line. In 20 NHL games this season, Sanford has just one assist and is a minus-1.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Ryan Kesler has points in three of his last four games. The third-line center leads the Ducks with 43 points this season and is on pace for his second straight 50-point season. Washington will have to have more awareness while facing the bottom-six, considering Kesler is the team’s biggest offense threat of late.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]Nicklas Backstrom and Brett Connolly extended their respective point streaks Thursday, but Connolly’s recent surge is the most surprising. The 24-year-old winger has goals in three straight games and is riding a five-game point streak. With Connolly leading the charge on the bottom-six, and Backstrom quietly making a statement, expect Washington to get the most out of their forward lines Saturday.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Braden Holtby will get the nod Saturday, making this his second career game against Anaheim. Holtby is looking for his 14th straight victory, and won his only start against the Ducks, stopping 27 0f 28 shots and posting a .964 save mark. John Gibson will start for Anaheim. The 22-year-old has gone 0-1-1 in two career games against the Capitals with a 2.93 GAA and .900 save percentage.
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.