The Washington Capitals impressed in a one-sided tilt in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Pittsburgh, and with the way they are playing now, they are starting to look like true Stanley Cup contenders. Now, they have the chance to win eight straight games, as well as surpass Columbus to claim the first-place spot in the Metropolitan Division.
However, they will have to escape Verizon Center Friday with a victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, who are not only riding their own impressive four-game winning streak, but also sit atop of the Central Division.
With NHL stars Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane putting on strong performances for their respective clubs of late, the Capitals-Blackhawks matchup is bound to be interesting.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center- 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CSNMA, CSNC
2016-17 Season Series:
Nov. 11- Capitals 3 Blackhawks 2
Washington Capitals – 27-9-5, 59 Points
Home Record: 16-5-1
Hot Players: Alex Ovechkin, Justin Williams, Nicklas Backstrom
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Nate Schmidt
Chicago Blackhawks – 27-12-5, 59 Points
Away Record: 10-8-1
Hot Players: Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, Duncan Keith
Key Injuries: Marcus Kruger
Vince Hinostroza-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Richard Panik
Andrew Desjardins-Dennis Rasmussen-Jordin Tootoo
Duncan Kieth-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Brian Campbell-Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Michal Kempny-Michal Rozival
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]With two goals in Wednesday’s win over Pittsburgh, Alex Ovechkin has three goals and seven points in his last five games. He appears to be recapturing the chemistry he once shared with linemate Nicklas Backstrom, who is coming off a four-point performance Wednesday.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Blackhawks are getting necessary offense out of their big names in Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. Kane is riding a four-game point streak, and Keith has at least a point in his last five games. As Kane approaches the 50-point mark, he is catching up to the league lead in scoring
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]One story surrounding the Blackhawks season is their lack of power on special teams. Their penalty kill ranks as the third-worst in the NHL, so they will have to avoid the penalty box and stay aware of Washington’s offensive arsenal when they have the man advantage. On the power-play, Chicago is rather mediocre, and needs to make the most of their chances and focus on maintains possession and getting pucks on net if they want to break through Washington’s penalty kill, which is the third-best in the league.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Braden Holtby will start again for Washington between the pipes, and has been sensational in net of late. He appears to boast great ability and confident between the pipes, and has two shutouts in his last five starts. Corey Crawford gets the nod for Chicago, and though he has three straight wins under his belt, he appears to be somewhat struggling between the pipes. He has allowed two or more goals in eight straight contests, and has surrendered three goals in five of his last 10 starts.
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.